Yes, I know you might be saying to yourself: “Why do I need to start thinking about this now? Ninth grade is months away.”
Take it from me, I wish I had known what I am about to share with you:
The courses your children take in 9thgrade can influence their entire high school career and college application process.
Here is the sand trap for unsuspecting parents and their children:
Although most high schools have specific requirements for high school graduation, these requirements are not necessarily the same as what a specific college requires for admission.
This is what happened in my family:
Both my daughters (who attended different high schools) insisted on pushing themselves into algebra in 9th grade, planning on then only having to take three years of high school mathematics. (While they were both good students, math was not their best subject area.)
Then we discovered about mid-way through their high school years that the colleges to which they wanted to apply required four years of high school math REGARDLESS OF THE LEVEL OF MATHEMATICS.
My older daughter was allowed to take an easy fourth-year math class in her senior year of high school. But my younger daughter’s high school insisted the only fourth-year math class she could take was AP Calculus! And did she suffer in this course in which the teacher taught “to the exam” and did not have time to really teach the subject.
The above is only one example of why it is so important to do some research on college applications BEFORE your children start 9th grade. Why push your children to accelerate in a subject area not their strongest if there is no advantage to this and instead there is a risk?
There are other considerations in planning a student’s four years in high school, including allotting time for extracurricular activities, community service, work experience and fun. The earlier these other considerations are discussed between you and your child, the easier it may be to incorporate these elements without overtaxing your child.
And a very, very important warning to impress upon your children of any age who are active online:
Anything put online can probably be found regardless of the supposed privacy controls, and deleting something online does not necessarily make it disappear.
Colleges want students who have good judgment skills. A college admissions officer is unlikely to look kindly on the application of a student for whom a quick Google search reveals photos and updates not in the best taste.
If your children are working hard to do well in high school, you do not want them blindsided by online activities done while having fun. As the saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.”
The added advantage of starting to plan now? A reason to bond with your child over figuring out what is best for him or her.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@Zimbler Miller on Twitter and Pinterest) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com
She is also the author of the new book HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE – vist her author website at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com