Professional Future

College Prep Confusion: We Don’t Want That For You

8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade…it all goes by in a blur. Our biggest fear is that parents will wake up the spring of their student’s junior year and realize they have no understanding of what the college search involves and be lost in college prep confusion.

When was Bobby supposed to take his ACT exam?

Did it matter whether Jane took the honors chemistry?

How will Joey ever pick a major?

We don’t want missed opportunities in the past and panic about the future for you.

Given the landscape of high school and college today, spring of the junior year is much too late to get started. (Junior families find value in our Private Consultations.)

That’s the whole purpose of At The Core’s presentations—to help your family prepare and build a foundation of knowledge of the next steps.

Which presentation is right for me?

Each season, we have a selection of presentations based on the grade of the student. We know they can be confusing. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Middle school students

8th grade is a big jumping off point for students. In January, schools start talking with students about high school, but parents are often left out in the cold in terms of information.

Because we feel parents need a trusted resource in order to “look ahead,” we created a free workshop called just that—“Looking Ahead™: Planning for Success in High School and Beyond.”

Created for 8th grade (rising freshmen) parents, Looking Ahead touches on many key things parents need to know:

  • Course planning – How does it work? What should we be thinking about?
  • Educational options – What opportunities do schools provide?
  • Graduation requirements – How will this impact my child?
  • Self assessment – How does a student’s time spent thinking about themselves help them with choosing high school courses, a college, a major, and even a career?
  • ACT/SAT testing – How do I know when my student is ready? What can we be doing now?
  • College – a very introductory look at how it works now since so much has changed

These topics are just a few of the things we’ll talk about. As with all our programs, this one is info-packed!

Very near and dear to our hearts is the Heads Up™: Equipping Students for What’s Next workshop for grades 7, 8, and 9.

How do students pick a career? They may know a bit about mom’s and dad’s careers. They may know a bit about the careers of the people they meet like doctors, teachers, journalists, etc.

However, they don’t really know:

  1. What careers are out there?
  2. How do I learn about them?
  3. How do I know whether those careers are a good fit for me?

Created for students in grades 7, 8, and 9, our Heads Up workshop takes some first steps to lay the groundwork for thinking about these things. It really is one-of-a-kind. We spend 4 hours over 2 days doing activities, having discussions, doing some research, and frankly having fun! The workshop is a small group, so this age can be more comfortable.

During the second hour of the second day, parents join their students to talk about what we’ve covered and how what we learned can help plan for high school.

Where else can our students get the chance to think about their strengths, skills, values, and preferences?!

High school students

We have a wide variety of program to address different topics for high school families. Our College Planning Guide for 8-10th Graders is a great way to get an overview of the whole process. We also have deep dives into testing, extracurriculars, high school scheduling, careers and majors, college research, paying for college, and more. All can be found on our Upcoming Programming page.

The fact is going to college today is not the same as it was when we went to school.

For most of us who went to college, we…

  • took the college prep classes in high school (sitting all day at a desk)
  • took a standardized test (whichever was popular in our state of residence)
  • picked a college or maybe even two (!)
  • filled out an application (maybe on paper with a pen?)
  • wrote that check (!)
  • chose a major (maybe stumbled into one?)
  • found a job (maybe in our major?)

Today, each of those items has changed!

College-bound students no longer are limited in their high school coursework—career centers, mentorships, STEM academies, AP, IB, and even classes for college credit.

Students have testing options—choosing the test that fits their style, taking it at different times (maybe for practice), using different tools to help, or even choosing colleges that don’t require test scores at all.

Today’s students are applying to many colleges—10, 20, or more! What are these colleges looking for? How do you choose which ones will be the best fit?

The application is done online. How does that work? What is that timeline like?

Writing the check…gulp. Average public colleges now cost $25,000 per year and private college costs can be twice that. What to do with that?!

Choosing a major and finding a job…employers today are looking for more than just a college degree.

Families can find programming to address all of these concerns on our Upcoming Program page. We suggest students attend with their parent(s), so everyone is on the same page.

Paying for College

This topic is one that isn’t bound by grade levels. The fact is knowing what is ahead in terms of paying for college is better sooner rather than later. So, the sooner you can hear this message the better.

Joe Messinger, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, is an expert in college funding (and isn’t trying to sell insurance products!). He joins us at Tips to scratch the surface in our money talk, and he also hosts a more detailed free webinar called Smart Money Moves for the College-Bound™ in his quest to “end the student loan debt crisis one day at a time.”

Simply saving money isn’t enough to pay that bill, so he’ll share strategies to find a college that fits not only academically and socially but financially as well!

We have a wide assortment of free and low-cost programming to suit your needs.

Where are you in the process? Find the workshop that fills your needs and sign up today. We are grateful every day to help families by offering a variety of opportunities to learn more about their college search.


Enjoy this post? Don’t want to miss any future blogs about education, college, or careers?