By Jeannine Harrell, Guile Contreras, Sarah Fleischauer, and Kerry Tousignant

As a parent, you’ve likely heard that it’s never too early to talk to your child about college.  At the same time, your child has years until it’s time to apply. Is there a natural way to begin the discussion about college readiness without it feeling forced?

A few tips to start:

  • Talk to your child about the required education and credentials for various careers
  • Start a dialogue about the benefits of college. Some of the ones that may resonate with middle-school age children are as follows:
    • College students have the chance to explore topics of interest and meet people who are equally passionate about those topics
    • College can provide travel opportunities through study abroad
    • A degree makes an individual more likely to get a job in the future
    • College graduates get paid more than those with only a high school diploma
  • Incorporate the occasional college visit into your family vacations. If your child is a fan of a college team, go see the campus. Even just walking by a university campus prompts your child to think about his or her future plans.

Once you’ve gotten started with these above tips, there are some additional ways you can support your middle school student in getting on the path to college and career readiness in the coming years. These include the following:

  • Peruse this college preparation checklist for parents and children
  • Talk to your child about their interests and skills
  • Assess grades and performance, looking for ways to assist and encourage
  • Have your child take a learning style quiz
  • Begin researching colleges
  • Facilitate conversations between your child and people in their lives who attended college
  • Find ways that your child can get involved in the community

There are many factors involved in the college application process. Believe it or not, this process begins in middle school! Check back here tomorrow for an overview of these factors that are especially relevant to parents of middle school students.

Additional Resources:

Jeannine Harrell, Guile Contreras, Sarah Fleischauer, and Kerry Tousignant are students in the Master’s in School Counseling Program in the UNCG Department of Counseling and Educational Development.