Posted on May 09, 2012 - 06:00 AM
| College Prep
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Are today’s 8th
graders under the same pressures that high-school juniors and seniors were 40 years ago?
The answer, in short, is yes. The pressure is not quite as great, but it’s similar. These days, college and career paths begin in junior high.
Consider these facts:
· Twice as many high-school graduates go to college today than 40 years ago.
· 94% of parents expect their student to go to college.
· 90% of high-school freshmen consider going to college.
· Colleges look at all four-years of a student’s high-school record. One bad year can quickly eliminate top colleges.
Once upon a time, a high school’s primary role was to prepare students for the workforce, with a select few going to college. Today, it’s the exact opposite. High school is seen as a gateway to college, which then works to prepare students for the workforce. The good news is that college prep can pave the way for both so that you make a smooth transition to college and career.
Benefits to Starting College Prep Early
- Cut costs. You 8th graders entering high school have one advantage seniors do not: the next step in your education is free. But if you want to cut the cost of college in four years, you have to start college prep now. You can’t wait until junior or senior year to start building an impressive college resume. You need to map your classes and activities over the next four years (our Four-Year Schedule Planner and tips can help you here). Working on your college application no longer starts as an upperclassman; it starts before you even begin high school.
- Pick a career path. 8th graders face career decisions similar to high-school seniors of yesterday. You don’t have to have your exact career picked out, but you should have some general ideas. Many careers take years of training and without the proper education, starting in high school, you could be left behind. You still have some flexibility, but you need to participate in classes and activities that help you in the future. Our personality tests and career research tools can be a big help in revealing your greatest job strengths and career interests.
- Keep college options open. The better you do in high school, the better your college options will be. This means taking the right classes (particularly Advanced Placement or Honors classes), as well as getting good grades and SAT or ACT scores. Of course, this isn’t a one-year plan; it’s a four-year program. You can’t get serious junior year and hope to land in a great school with great financial aid. 10% of high-school freshmen don’t take a math class. They’ve already limited their options.
- Keep career options open. Early college prep gives you more career choices. A study by the Gates Foundation shows that students who take college prep regardless of their future job do better. They earn more money and become supervisors and managers. Thinking about careers is no longer something you do when graduation stares you in the face. You start early so you can target your education to your goals after high school.
Graduating high school was once a necessity for a good job; today, that is largely true of college. The best-paying careers require at least a four-year degree.
The dilemma once faced by seniors – college or job – is now faced by 8th graders. If you don’t act on it, the decision will be made for you. Choices must be made now or time will remove your options.
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