How To Prepare For College Now

College is coming. It’s coming sooner for some and later for others. But, it’s still coming for most, and it’s never too soon to prepare.

Winter time is always a stressful time for high school seniors, lobbying for certain colleges, awaiting acceptance or rejection letters. Some of them may even look back to their freshmen years of high school or even earlier, thinking I should have taken a harder curriculum, more extra-curricular activities or even gotten an A in that Algebra class.

Once you’re a high school senior – or when you’re the parent of high school senior – it’s too late to change what happened freshman year or even back when you were 12 years old. So, it could be wise to start preparing for college before high school starts.

The Washington Post took insights and advice from several college admissions experts and education administrators. It then published tips for how middle school students can begin the college preparation process, seven pieces of advice that a 12 year-old can handle.

1. Pay attention to your 12 year-old's interests: Try to find a constructive hobby that interests your son or daughter and encourage him/her to pursue it. Encourage singing, sports, cooking, building stuff, etc. Encouraging your middle school student to get involved in something that he/she is truly interested in could help him/her build extra-curricular involvement while in high school, improving the college entrance application.

2. Try not to stress your child out too much: Middle school students all handle stress differently and are receptive to different messages. Try not to pile stress on your children by having them do absolutely everything and anything available. But, other students need to be pushed into activities a little more than others.

3. Have them take high-school level courses: Push your kids into Algebra I or even Geometry classes before high school starts. Some high schools will even let these classes – while still taken in middle school – count for high school grade-point averages. Chances are the same class will be easier when it’s taken in eighth grade as opposed to freshman or sophomore year of high school.

4. Give them self-responsibility: Simple chores or personal responsibility can help make your children self-motivated. This could help them achieve throughout high school because it’s what they want to do and because they think it’s important, rather than because you are harping on them.

5. Expose them to colleges: Open up a conversation about college. For students who are interested in sports, have them watch college sports. Also, you could take day trips to college campuses, or stop at some on family vacations. This could help get your students interested in college education early on.

6. Promote foreign languages: Colleges are becoming more internationally diverse. Simply encouraging your student to take a foreign language in school or at home with CDs could help them become more culturally diverse. 50 years ago, Yale University had one international student for every 50 students; today it has 1 in every 11.

7. Encourage reading: Have your middle school student read anything and everything, whether it’s magazines, science fiction novels, blogs, journals, etc. Try to create genuine interest for your children where they actually want to read instead of just for school. Studies consistently indicate that students who read a lot outperform those who do not.