Getting ready for college

Junior high is not too early to start


Your child is about to graduate from eighth grade. So you’re thinking about graduation, planning a party and where she will attend high school.

Should you be thinking about getting her ready for college now as well?

“Absolutely,” says college counselor Kim Myers, who for the past six years has been guiding students at Chicago’s Marist High School through the college application process. Building—and recording—a resume of activities and achievements for those college applications begins as soon as junior high ends.

“Getting accepted into many of the colleges now is much more competitive, so it has become necessary for students to start planning earlier,” Myers explains.

When mapping out that freshman year schedule, Myers recommends eligible students enroll in honors courses and continue with more honors and advanced placement classes through graduation.

“The colleges look at patterns and rigors. They want to see if the student challenged himself. They look at the grade point average, but especially at the courses behind the GPA,” says Myers, who was director of admissions at St. Xavier University in Chicago for 16 years.

While your student is in grade school, encourage her to participate in as many extracurricular activities as he or she can manage, from sports teams and academic clubs to volunteering with community organizations.

“Starting in grade school, children should begin doing some kind of volunteer work, like raking the leaves at no charge for the lady next door,” says Colette DuPont, a counselor at Mount Assisi Academy in Lemont. “The student should also be involved in sports, dance, music or whatever the student likes. If a student begins high school from this background, they will continue to join groups and do volunteer work in their community.”

This not only helps build a well-rounded student, it is often a deciding factor in college acceptance and scholarships. It is key to begin documenting your child’s accomplishments and activities starting with the summer following eighth grade graduation. Myers suggests recording this information in a spiral notebook.

Does your child take a class at a local art gallery? Volunteer at a retirement home or help with younger children at a church camp? Once your child is in high school, record honor roll placements, club or sports team participation, induction into the National Honor Society, being named student of the month—any award or recognition they earn. Be sure to note leadership positions, such as club officer or team captain.

When the time comes to fill out those college and scholarship applications, there will be no need for your child to panic as she tries to remember all those activities and awards.

Just smile and hand her the spiral notebook. Jodi Marneris

Kids Eat Chicago

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