7 Ways to Prepare your Middle Schooler for College

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Do you have middle schoolers at home, who are thinking about the college option?  

I spoke with a mom, just the other day, whose young teens was interested in going to college after they graduated high school.  She asked me if there was anything that she could do to help her prepare them for college.

When my daughter was that age, we didn't do anything in particular for college prep.  But I did make sure that she was getting a solid education. 

Looking back,  I came up with 7 things to help prepare your young teen for future college endeavors...Each of these ideas can be encouraged after school hours, or incorporated into your homeschool, if your kids are learning at home. 

That's what we did, and my daughter is now a sophomore at a two tier university. 

7 Ways to Prepare your Middle Schooler for College 

1. Take time to discuss what they are reading, using beginning literary analysis.

Does your English curriculum, whether published or homemade, include critical thinking questions to discuss?

If your kids can analyze what they read, they are building their critical thinking skills, which are crucial to success in college.  And literary analysis can do just that.

But what is literary analysis? --"It focuses on how plot/structure, character, setting, and many other techniques are used by the author to create meaning. Always be sure to discuss the significance of your observations....." related to the theme of the story.  --from Arrowhead Schools

Beginning literary analysis can work just as well with your kid's free reading, as it does with their English assignments. Discussing what my daughter read, was one of the main things that developed her thinking skills for college.

We loved using Oak Meadow English in our homeschool, for the middle and high school years.

It introduced the components of good literature with it's excellent critical thinking skills and living literature.

This helped my daughter to not only learn literary analysis, but also built up her critical thinking skills, necessary for high school and college.  For my review of this curriculum, click here.
2.  Write a lot! - Encourage all kinds of writing - fiction, essays, reports, biographies, or autobiographies, etc.  

We all know how important writing skills are to the college student. How is your child doing with their writing?  Do they have a chance to practice different types of writing in school?

Finding a way that your teen can express themselves in the written form is very important.  Developing their voice in any writing style. poetry, fiction, etc, will help them build up their confidence for later college writing assignments.

Encourage opportunities to help them build up these skills, such as through entering writing contests.  Use their interests to get them writing on topics that are meaningful to them. 

Scholastics offers contests in all kinds of writing, as well as Teen Ink, and there are many more contests available online, as well.  

One year, my daughter was really interested in airplanes and the airline industry, so that became the focus of her research report writing that year.  

Another year, she was wanting to try her hand in story writing...so we focused on that.  She wrote a science fiction story, then a contemporary one about lost pets.

We used Oak Meadow English for writing as well as literature.  One of my other favorite resources for writing, is the Spectrum Writing series.  I liked it was easy to use, and was full of writing prompts, including many different types of essays to write. 

3.  Consider getting feedback on your young teen's writing skills.

Conferencing with your teen's teacher can help you find a way to her your child, if that can be arranged. 

If you want more information on your young teen's writing skills, there are essay evaluation services. 

Susanne Barrett, at Essay Grading Serviceoffers a composition evaluation service.  Just goggle essay writing assessments for more resources.

This helped us a lot, as I could relax and know that my kiddo was doing well in her writing.  
4.  Encourage lots of reading.

Kids who read alot, develop strong vocabularies. We  know that. That will help alot with college entrance testing, SAT, ACT, and college itself.  

My daughter loved reading science fiction and adventure stories, and we encouraged that.  Their reading can include various types of books, as they all help to build their vocabulary.

5.  Get Prealgebra done.

Most colleges ask for algebra 1 in 9th grade.  So it is important to get a good understanding of pre-algebra during middle school.  

We used Teaching Textbooks, then went to Switched-On-Schoolhouse's, which helped my daughter with retention, as it had more repetition.  

6.  For homeschoolers, consider providing practice in test taking.

We liked to focus on hands-on approaches in our homeschool, but somewhere in 7th grade, we began to incoorporate some quizes and tests into our homeschool. 

Why?  Test taking skills are important to success in college.
 And starting in middle school gives your child plenty of time to practice. 

 By high school she was no longer anxious about test taking.

7.  Encourage their budding Interests.

My daughter's first irish performance

It's never too early to encourage your young teen's special interests.  Finding their natural interests and following them can really help in the college application process.

My daughter's interests in middle school centered around irish dancing and student government activities.  These both helped her to build confidence, and beginning leadership skills.  

There are many ways to help your child develop leadership skills, which many colleges look for. Volunteering at church, assisting in a class in co-op, etc. are great ways to build in leadership development.

NOTE - Colleges want to know what your child is really about. 

They see lots of applications from students who are just doing activities to build up their applications.  But they want to see students who have interests that are real, and meaningful to them.

These are my favorite tips, for aiming towards college, during middle school.  What are yours?  Please share in the comments. 

Here's my book that I mentioned above - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind..

Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.  

Heidi, from Starts at Eight says:

"If you are planning on homeschooling high school then Betsy's book is the one that you want to have on the shelf"......click here to read the rest of her review."
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Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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  1. Great tips! I think you have given some solid information regarding the preparation for college. Sharing!

    1. Thanks, Erin Vincent, for stopping by, and for sharing this post with your followers! That is so nice of you. I hope that it will encourage other families in their young teen's journey. Have a great week, Erin,

  2. I definitely think that the best thing we did in middle school was to develop interests. Once we had a direction, high school planning was a breeze, and it helped us be more organized in our goals for college.

    1. That's great that she knew her interests so young! My daughter did not know what she wanted to do in middle school, but was interested in teaching and science. Later she explored leadership and politics, which is where she is leaning now. So we just kept on encouraging her interests, while making sure she was prepared academically, at the same time. Thanks so much for sharing, that will be an encouragement to other families. Have a great week,


  3. Thanks for linking up at the Bloggers Spotlight this week! Don't forget to come link up Thursday night and see the features. Pinned to the group Bloggers Spotlight.

    1. Thank you, Hil D, from the Bloggers Spotlight, which always has great resources! And thanks for pining this post to your board. Have a great week,


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