College Prep for 8th and 9th Graders?

It may seem a bit early for 8th graders to be planning for college, but as Gaga, my grandmother, used to say: “tempus fugit – time flies.” I had the pleasure of meeting with the Treasure Mountain High PTSO this morning to discuss how 8th and 9th graders should be preparing for college. Here are the top five tips that I shared:

Good Grades

It probably goes without saying, you need to earn the best grades you can, especially in 9th grade. Most colleges consider 9th grade scores and your overall GPA. 

Develop Strong Study Habits

Good grades come from strong habits.  Starting as early as eighth grade, you can learn how to manage your study schedules, homework deadlines, and other academic requirements. Staying organized is key. Take notes in class, then review the notes the same day. Did you know that research has shown that reviewing notes for just 10 minutes within 24 hours dramatically increases retention? Create study sheets, experiment with Quizlet, and study with friends – find out what works best for YOU.  Every student is different.  

Learn to ask for help!  Take advantage of teachers’ office hours and study sessions.  Now is the best time to identify a need for accommodations such as extra-time for tests. 

Finally, take standardized tests seriously; they are a no-risk opportunity to develop and practice test-taking strategies that will serve you well when you take the ACT or SAT your junior year.    

Get Involved!

Participating in extracurricular activities makes you a well-rounded applicant and teaches you how to manage your time, work with others, and so much more.  Not only during the school year, but also during the summer.  Colleges are looking for students that are excited about their activities.  The quality of the interaction is more important than the quantity. Find something that interests you and stick with it.

Keep a list of activities, jobs, awards and accomplishments.

Explore Colleges

Start thinking about what you might like about college – location, academics, size, cost, campus life?  Visit campuses locally or while you are on vacation.  Observe the campus, the students, and consider if you would want to spend 4 years there.  Take pictures and notes that you can look back and review.

Talk to friends and family about their college experiences.  Why did you choose to go to College X? What surprised you after you got there?  What was your favorite part? Worst part?  If you had to do it over again, what other questions would you ask? What would you do differently?

Remain Calm

Your education is a marathon, not a sprint.  Find balance, be prepared, but don’t stress! Rely on family and school counselors to help you on this journey.

Need More Help?

Step Up Utah is a great resource and I strongly recommend signing up for their newsletters. Additionally, if you still have questions or are looking for more suggestions Breakaway Prep Park City can help in a couple of different ways:

Creating a Balanced College List

Need to narrow down the 3,500+ colleges? Know which schools are really reaches? targets? safer bets? The process of choosing a college starts with a careful look at yourself.  What are your interests, attitudes, and abilities?  We work with you to help them understand the differences between colleges and how to match these differences to their interests. 

College Essay Help

Why is it so difficult to write a personal statement?  We think there are a couple of things that make writing the essay challenging.  First, it is personal.   Yuck, who wants to write about their feelings?  Second, there is pressure that the essay must be "perfect".  This is a myth.  The essay needs to be authentic, but not perfect.  We work with students using a 3-step approach to identify a personal story, explain what they have learned, and explore why what they learned matters.  Using an iterative process, we start big and end up with a compelling narrative that really shows the students personality and defining characteristics. 

College Application Bootcamp

Work with our college counseling team to complete your applications months ahead of deadlines. This 4-day program covers all the application components, including the college essay.

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