Prepare by Grade - Middle School

Middle school is the perfect time to begin planning for college.  Starting the process early gives plenty of time for preparation, discovery and thoughtful planning. 

Tips for Good Preparation

Middle school is a great time for students to begin academic preparation for high school, develop good habits and engage in personal growth.

Students... These are for you!


Some people think that they are either born talented or not. The truth is, everyone can improve their skills.
People who think, "Either you have it or you don't" quit when things get hard.

People who believe they can grow, see set backs as opportunities to keep trying harder. Over time they see progress. Check out the Growth Mindset page in your planner to learn more.

Pro Tip: Spend a few minutes daily studying or reviewing content in subjects where you want to improve your grades. It's okay to ask for help.

Remember these key ideas

1. Have a notebook for each class.
2. Write down ideas the teacher puts on the board.
3. At the end of the day, spend a few minutes reading the notes you took. A few minutes of reviewing helps lock it into your brain.
4. Put a star by points that the teacher spent a lot of time on. These might show up on tests.
5. Ask your teacher to go over anything you did not fully understand.

Pro Tip:
Anything you get excited about learning can be a hint that you might enjoy a career doing that.

The good habits you develop now are the same ones you need in college.

Study first. Play later. Take notes in class. Review them. Highlight key points.Track your sources.

If you can get work done during the day, do it at school. Your teachers are there to help you.

Use a planner to keep track of due dates. Break large projects into small tasks that can be done before its due.

Identify what is most important to know and focus on it.

Pro Tip: Work on your hardest subjects first, when you are most alert.

S.M.A.R.T. goals help you move in the right direction.


I will practice my math skills 10 minutes a night on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursdays for the month of September.

Pro Tip: Reaching small goals helps build confidence and momentum. Write your goals down and review progress regularly. Celebrate your successes.

Families... what can you do?


Repeat Often

Tell them you want them to graduate high school.Tell them you want them to go to technical school or college. Take them to visit a campus.Help them explore careers:

Monitor their homework and grades. Students who fall behind in middle school lack the foundation to succeed in high school.

Tell them you expect them to be in class every day. Students who miss days are more likely to drop out.

Help them see how education can help them reach their goals.

Praise Effort, Not Smarts

Teach your child that skills are built over time and through effort. "Look how studying your spelling every day has helped improve your grade" is better than saying, "Nice grade."

A fixed mindset believes either you have it or you don't. It gives up easily and when there is failure, the person's self-esteem suffers.

A learning mindset believes that improvement comes over time, through work and effort.

Monitor their progress

Put important due dates on a calendar that both of you can see.Check-in on progress. Provide school supplies.

Get teachers to show you your child's work. Ask "Where do they need help to grow? What are they doing well?"

Help your child to set goals for the year. Help them identify reasonable objectives. As they reach small goals, use praise to help them stay motivated.

Encourage them to stick to a regular schedule of study time.

Take these steps now

Stay engaged in your child's education. Review homework regularly. If there are problems, get help early on.

Use the FAFSA4caster online. Learn how much aid your child may be able to get and what your financial contribution may need to be.

Learn the basics of financial aid. Learn the difference between grants and loans. Learn about scholarships.

Ask what classes your child should be taking now to be ready for high school. Monitor their progress.