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The importance of preparing kids for college

FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2014 15:08 PM

College is a critical time in anyone's life because it's where you pick up the skills you need to pursue your life goals. However, not all students approach their post-secondary education prepared. For this reason, some educators and administrators suggest kids start planning in junior high. Others wonder if that's too soon, and what the point of early preparation even is. If you're still unsure if your student should get started early, check out these reasons why college preparation is essential to educational success:

Prepared students earn more after college
ACT conducted a survey to determine if how prepared a student was for college affected their future earnings. Participants, who were made up of alumni from over 300 colleges and universities, answered questions about their ACT composite score (their total score after bringing together all individual subjects), current job and salary, interests, high school activities and aspirations. 

The survey results showed that the higher the person's ACT composite score (meant to measure college readiness), the amount of money they earned later in life increased. This result was the same for both men and women, regardless of their career and educational interests. 

To reflect college rigors
Coasting through high school might sound appealing for some students, but those who don't focus on their college goals might suffer when they start post-secondary classes. College courses are much more challenging than those in high school, as professors assign large amounts of work and have high expectations. Students who aren't prepared for the intensity of college may have to take remedial courses or could fail a class and have to take it a second time. This is a huge waste for the student and whomever is funding their education. 

Students can prepare for the challenges coming during college by registering for difficult classes in high school. Advanced Placement or honors courses are meant to reflect a university level when it comes to academic challenge. These classes are a great way for students to test themselves. The Common Core State Standards also help schools create educational goals that are meant to guide students to be prepared for college by the time they graduate.

To save money in the long run
The cost of sending kids to college has increased over the years, and can be a huge financial burden for some families. Students who fail classes their first year because of a lack of preparation have to pay to retake them. Some families can't afford to cover the cost of class twice. Additionally, students who are well prepared have the opportunity to apply for scholarships. The better their grades, the greater their chances of supplementing their tuition with grants awarded for academic excellence. 

Quickly focuses students
Choosing a major and identifying interests is part of planning for college. That journey can begin early and will set your student on the path toward a focused college education. Many students enter post-secondary life unsure of what career path they'd like to pursue. While this isn't detrimental to success students who do have a handle on their future goals can work toward them sooner than those who don't. Your student is more likely to gather the skills necessary for their career because they began the process as soon as they got to college (and sooner in some cases). 

Middle and high school students should talk to their guidance counselors to help them identify areas of interest. Joining clubs and other extracurricular activities is another way for students to determine what subjects spark their sense of passion and purpose. Summer internships are also available to driven high schoolers who want to try their hand at a certain occupation.