College Prep

College Prep for Children in Grades K-8

So much attention is placed on what preparatory steps should be taken for college for kids that are in high school, but not enough is ever mentioned for kids in elementary school and middle school. Sure, the college talk does tend to start in middle school, but no proactive steps are taken toward fulfilling your goals at that grade level.

In order for students to truly be prepared for college, the preparation needs to begin all the way down in the primary grades. Now, this doesn't mean that third graders should start thinking about what they want to major in, but it does mean that kids should be guided by teachers and parents to understand the importance of college and to accept it as a real goal that they can fulfill.

Some ways to prepare for college in elementary and middle school include:

Adding College to the Discussion

In the classroom, teachers have to cover the curriculum. That's a given. But there should still be time and ways to throw college talk into the mix. It may be something as simple as talking about what the teacher majored in in college or what sorts of things you can study while in college. However, the importance lies with the fact that college is mentioned and talked about as a real option—not just a far away thing kids see on TV.

Exposing Kids to College Opportunities

This is a part of talking about college with kids, but to be more specific, discussing the opportunities college can open up for a person is really important for preparing kids for college. Why, you may ask? Quite simply, college is the gateway to opportunity in life and the sooner kids understand this fact, the more willing they will be to do the hard work to achieve their goals.

College opportunities can be relayed to children of all ages by means of simply talking about them or showing them exactly what going to college can do for one's life. For instance, a teacher could talk about how the people that get to dig up dinosaur bones went to college. Or that astronauts went to college. By showing kids all of the really cool stuff you can do with a college degree, you'll get some very enthusiastic kids on your hands.

Take Advantage of Campus Visits

Probably one of the best ways you can prepare young children for college is to physically take them to the local college campus. There are many campus tours and visiting days wherein a staff member will guide a classroom or group of children throughout the campus and talk about all of the unique and interesting things they can do there when they grow up. As a parent, you can also schedule an outing with your child where you show them the college campus you went to. You can talk about all of the things you did there, the activities you participated in and the classes you took. Of course, it is always a good idea to tailor the talk to the age of your child. Talking about the complex experiments you did in chemistry class is probably not the best way to go about enticing an eight-year old into the college life.

Regardless of the tactics you use as a teacher or a parent, instilling the necessity of college in children from a young age can work wonders in increasing their motivation and providing direction in their lives. Rather than starting the college talk when students are in high school and not as open to suggestion, starting it younger helps to shape children and to encourage them to walk down the collegiate path.


 

College Preparation Guidance

A Timeline for Students

College is a whole new world and if you haven't prepared for it at least on some level, then you're really putting yourself at a great disadvantage. Most American high schools likely heavily on college prep, but getting ready for college involves more than taking a couple of prep courses and filling out an admissions application.

Guess what? Proper college preparation begins while you're a child. When children are young parents can instill the college expectation, that without a doubt children are going to attend college. This type of preparation can positively shape your outlook and help you develop an early sense of your educational and career goals.

By the time you enter high school college goals become uppermost in the decisions you make regarding courses, grades, achievement, academic habits, extracurricular activities and even part-time jobs.

Develop an Academic College-Oriented Mindset

Prepare for college well enough in advance by nurturing a college-oriented mindset. How do you do this? Create an image in your mind in which you can visualize yourself on a college campus or in a dorm room. Self-affirming images like this have powerful effect on our lives. This image, over time, makes the idea of college an absolute in your life.

Parents or guardians are influential components in the college factor. Ideas that may help plant the college seed in your child's mind:

  • Talk about college when your children are young.
  • Ask kids what they'd like to be when they grow up.
  • Prompt teenagers to consider long-term goals and actually visualize themselves far in the future.

Make Use of Counselors and Other Resources

A huge part of college preparation is visiting with your high school counselor, often. Counselors are usually invaluable resources. However, most are not able to come search for you—you must go to them.

How your high school guidance or career counselor can help you with college prep:

Make it a habit to visit your high school counselors regularly: keep them up to date on you, your life and your goals.

Understand College Application Requirements Early

Along with paying a visit to your counselor often, you should also read about or pick up copies of college applications very early on. Even if you don't plan on attending a certain college, it can be extremely helpful to you to know what a college application looks like and what it entails so you can prepare accordingly. Your best bet would be to have a tentative list of colleges you'd like to attend so you can evaluate their applications early. Doing this will also help you understand what high school classes you need to take, any extracurricular activities you need to take part in and any other tasks you need to complete in order to be competitive on your application.

Develop and Program Good Habits Early

Habits you develop in high school can help make your adjustment to campus and dorm life that much easier. Here are a few tips:

  • Get accustomed to getting up early as if you had to attend an 8 a.m. class: buy an alarm clock.
  • Work a part-time job and set a personal spending budget you have to stick to; funds will be really tight once you're on campus.
  • Put money away into a 529-college savings account as early as you can; make saving for college part of your responsibility.

With proper preparation, college is a realistic goal with outstanding benefits. Ideally, parents and students work together toward this common goal. However, students can pull their own weight as well, by following these tips and by acknowledging the importance of a college education.


 

What Colleges Really Look for in a Student Application

Everything you put on your college applications is important. Every last bit of it. You know why? Because colleges are looking for the best of the best and in order to do that, they need to read each application carefully. One student may have a killer essay but may have answered the questions on the application really poorly. Another student might have a lackluster essay but a really impressive application with detailed answers. It's really hard to say what's more important or most important, but it is possible to point out some aspects of a college application that definitely deserve some extra attention.

Your High School Grades

They really are the most important thing. And as impressive as your extracurricular activities might be, grades are still going to be on a college's radar first. I mean, universities want to find the students that are most likely to buckle down when necessary, work very hard and really apply themselves to the courses that they take. While extracurricular activities will show reviewers that you are well rounded and may very well contribute to the campus atmosphere, grades will always be most important.

Your Courses & Class Work

Not only are your grades important, but so are the classes in which you earned those grades. In high school, I remember one student asking, "What is better, an A in a regular class or a B in an AP class," to which the teacher replied, "An A in an AP class."

Taking advanced placement courses shows admissions reviewers that you are committed to your education and are up for a challenge. AP classes require near college-level work, so a good grade in one of these classes will obviously mean much more than an A in a standard class. That is not to say students that took only regular classes will not be admitted to college. Quite the contrary. It just goes to show you that admissions officers really do look closely at applications and want to see that you have not only applied yourself but also challenged yourself.

Your Student Standing

How you compare to other students in your graduating class is important as well. Some colleges require that you be within a certain percentile of your class. The standard range is between the top 25%-50%. The higher your class rank, the higher your chances of being accepted into college.

Your Test Scores

While your SAT or ACT score will not necessarily make or break your college application, it can definitely give you a boost in either direction. For instance, if you have a B average but an extremely high exam score, you will probably be accepted no problem. The same goes for if you have high grades but a lower test score. Colleges want to see that you have either a broad range of knowledge, as with the ACT or the skills to reason and think logically as you will have to in college courses, as with the SAT. In both cases, these tests can really only add to your application. That is, unless you do terribly.

Your Admissions / Entry Essay

The essay, if required, is probably one of the most important aspects of the application. This is your shot to tell it like it is, in your own words. Nowhere else on the application can you be so free to express yourself in this manner. That's why it's so important that you take this aspect of the application very seriously. An outstanding essay gets many people admitted to college, even those with less than impressive grades. Let your personality shine through and make the college want you. There's really no better way to capture the attention of the admissions reviewers and state your case, so to speak. Take advantage of the opportunity!

The Best Classes to Help Students for College

While college prep should begin before high school—at least in terms of getting the right mindset—the real preparatory stuff comes into play during grades nine through twelve. When you're in high school, you will need to take into consideration the classes you take because different colleges require that you take different courses. Since admission requirements vary between schools, you'll need to do some research on the colleges you'd be interested in attending as well.

But besides research, you will need to plan your high school course schedule so that you meet all of the requirements of your potential college choices. This can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing, so let's discuss some of the basics.


 

Common College Admissions Requirements

When it comes to the classes you need to take in high school in order to get admitted to college, the specifics vary, but there tends to be a general trend toward the following:

English

You will typically need four years of English in high school in order to qualify for most colleges. Now, when I refer to "most colleges" I mean four-year colleges and universities. Community colleges and vocational schools have different requirements that usually do not involve high school course choices. The English classes you are offered in high school each year are usually those that count toward college admission, though check with your counselor to make sure.

U.S. History

A lot of colleges require that you have one year of U.S. History. There may be additional history course requirements, but the one-year of U.S. History is pretty specific. Check to see what your college requires and what your high school offers.

U.S. Government

A year of government is another common college admissions requirement. This way, students have a sampling of all of the major departments in a college so that they can choose their field of study with more confidence. Likewise, a year of government is thought to help students understand politics and to become responsible voters.

Economics

While not required by every college, again, it is a pretty common requirement to need to take economics in high school. This is usually only a semester long course, so it can be taken alongside an elective or some other semester course—which are somewhat rare in high school.

Science

The science requirements for colleges vary, though you can count on needing to take chemistry, biology and most likely anatomy as well. Remember that the requirements to graduate high school and those to be admitted to college differ widely. Talk to your counselor to see what the college of your choice requires.

Mathematics

For most college admissions, you will need to have taken Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. These are pretty standard requirements and are thought to give you a well rounded knowledge of mathematics so you'll be ready for college level algebra. Again, check to see the specific requirements before you start selecting your classes.

Electives

Electives are that wide, general category that include everything else that hasn't already been mentioned. You can fill the elective requirements with art classes, music classes, and additional classes from the above categories. There may be specific class requirements not included above that will count as elective credit in high school but fall under a different category in college. Double check everything!No two high schools or colleges are the same. You need should always discuss your class choices with a counselor to make sure you are on the right track, but don't rely on them for everything, either. Do your own research and find out what class requirements you need to fulfill in high school in order to be admitted to the college of your dreams. Failing to do this can lead to serious disappointment.


Does School Image Matter?

It may sound cliché, but you really can't judge a book by its cover. And just as a piece of literature could be trapped in boring and bland binding, so could a fantastic college have a less than stellar looking campus.

We've all seen the college movies, right? The lecture halls are gigantic and the admissions office is complete with spires and a bell tower. The landscaping is lush and beautiful and students gather on the grass for informal lectures about random world topics. While this would be a fun and relaxed way to go through college, it's simply not a reflection of reality. So don't be surprised when you visit college campuses, their appearances are nothing to write home about.

The Role of Image in the College Selection Process

Image is very important in everything that we do in life. It's how we select an outfit to wear and how we choose what to eat. Appearances aren't everything, but we definitely treat them as though they were everything. So it's only natural that a college's appearance would come into play. Even so, you have to know that just because the campus is well landscaped does not mean the classes are going to be of any higher quality or that the professors will be more helpful.

That is not to say that you should disregard appearances altogether. However, there are certain limits to what you should pay attention to and what you should disregard. Here are a few tips.

When Image Is Important

There is the occasional time when the appearance of a college is actually very important to your decision of whether or not to go there. For instance, if the campus is barren of trees, completely concrete and the staff never makes eye contact with you, there may be a problem, especially if you're an outgoing person. After all, you need to feel comfortable on the campus that you choose.

Another example is if there is a lot of vandalism or the buildings are falling apart. While it may be good that all of the budget is going to the classrooms for quality education, some amount of money needs to be devoted to campus upkeep as well. If shingles are consistently falling off and graffiti mars every wall, you may have a problem.

When to Let Image Go

Even though there are a few cases wherein appearances are really important, the vast majority of the time, how a campus looks couldn't be less important. For instance, if all of the buildings look similar and there's nothing fancy about them, don't rule the college out. Since when do you need fancy buildings to qualify a school as worthy of attendance? And if the grass isn't always perfectly manicured, don't freak out. A college or university is run by human hands, just as any other business, so you can't expect perfection in every area. Try to keep your focus on the things that go beneath the surface. For instance, what do students say about the campus and what is their general feeling toward it? Are professors helpful and courteous or do they seem as though they don't want to be bothered?

Try to look deeper into the entire feeling of the college. Do you feel as though you fit in with the current students? Now, I don't mean do make friends instantly. But what I do mean is whether or not you feel comfortable in the environment on campus. Being comfortable is essential to a productive learning environment. So no matter what, look inside yourself for some honest answers and know that how a college looks is no way to pick it or eliminate it from your shortlist. And why is that future college students? Image isn't everything!


Athletics V. Academics

There doesn't have to be a split between athletics and academics! Athletes actually benefit from doing well in school and vice versa. Read on to learn more about how athletics and academics complement each other.

Unfortunately, stereotyping creates the false impression that a student has to be either smart or athletic. However, in order for a student to feel well-rounded it may be best if they try to perform well in both areas.

Academic Skills Help You Succeed in Sports

Many sports games rely on logic and memorization, two very important components of math and other school classes. By improving your math skills through studying and doing your homework, you will be exercising your brain to work fast in the problem solving situations you face during most team sports, such as football, volleyball and basketball. These sports require players to interact and think fast to reach the final goal. Math and reading assignments help prepare students to think logically and fast in these and other real-life situations.

Traveling Academics

If you are serious about your sport then you will be traveling a lot during school. Being on the road a lot means that you may have to miss your classes. Even though you are an athlete and may miss instruction, teachers still expect you to learn the skills they are teaching when you are absent.

Many schools have minimum grade point average requirements for their student athletes. If a student falls behind in his or her classes, the student must take a break from the sports team until the student is able to pull his or her grades back up. This gives students extra motivation to learn their needed skills and strive to do well in the classroom.

Academics Teach Focus

Academics also help athletes to stay focused. Learning to study and do homework while on a noisy bus on the way to or from a athletic competition will certainly teach you how to block unnecessary distractions. This is a valuable skill for all students, and athletes in particular. As you probably know, other athletes are instructed to try to distract you during team play so you will not do as well. All of the practice of blocking out distractions while studying will prepare you for times like these.

Skills for Now, Skills for Later

Performing well in school will also motivate you to succeed in life. The vast majority of elementary through high school athletes are not going to become professional athletes. This means that you need to start to prepare today for whatever career you choose for tomorrow.

Even if you have what it takes to become a professional athlete, you will greatly benefit from a business degree or at least the math and reading skills that are necessary to complete personal tasks such as paying bills, balancing banking accounts, and paying taxes. Additionally, it is easy to become injured as an athlete, keeping up your grades and learning essential and advanced math and reading skills is like investing in a life insurance plan. If something forces you to end your athletic career, you will have the skills you need to find another career.

Be a Brain and a Jock

Physical activity and organized sports can also help students excel in the classroom. Keep these thoughts in mind the next time a student informs you that you have to be a 'brain' or a 'jock,' because chances are they are missing out on an important and worthwhile aspect of their life.

Martin Luther King Center of Topeka Donation

announce-martin-luther-king-jr

Individual Donation For NAA’s Black Expo & Grant Fest

Booth Space for NAAA Black Expo & Grant Fest Magazine

Booth Purchase
For-Profit/Goverment Booth Purchase

NAAA Black Expo & Grant Fest Magazine Advertising

Magazine Purchase Options
Page Purchase Sizes

© 2015 Neighborhood Academic and Athletic Associan. All rights reserved | Website donated by Umbrella and Jim Schwartz & Associates.