What can middle school students do to be college ready?

You don’t prepare for college when in college.

Most often than not, students , parents and schools, start their career counselling programme from Grade XI. Some schools focus from Grade X. However, the right time to engage students in a meaningful dialogue about their aspirations is in the middle school. Here are our 10 suggestions that students can start working upon right from middle school.

It is never too early!

1. Communication

This is one skill that is most needed as you find your way through middle school into college and then into your workplace. Build on your written and oral communication skill. To do this, you need to build your reading skill.

It is all about attitude, behavior and skill. Therefore, start early, start strong!

2. Talent

You will learn new skills and new knowledge. Skills you learn from practice. Writing skill, analytical skill, communication skill etc. Knowledge is what we learn in a formal way or through our experience. But talent cannot be taught. It has to be nurtured.   Try and identify what are you good at?  Very often I hear parents say, “She is so talented but she does not work hard”. That is a very ambiguous statement. It would be a good idea to ask your parents to help you identify your talents. Once you know what is your innate talent then it is easy to further work on it.

3. Time-management

All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that. – Baltasar Gracian

While time belongs to us, what we do with it is another matter. Set your to-do list a day in advance, Perhaps also create a to-not-do list. Ninety percent respondents from Grade IX to XII in a survey recently accepted that their biggest time-waster was the cell phone. I think what we need to learn and emphasize more upon is self-management. Perhaps it would be a good idea to hand over your phone to your parent when you sit down to study or simply switch it off.

4. Note-taking

Note taking is an art. Long copious notes that resemble a mini text book not only takes time to create but also is not very handy when you revise or prepare for exam. Try and create visuals  for the notes that you write. Visual tags to text help in better learning and remembering. Developing note-taking skills will be an advantage when in university. Notes can be digital or analogue.

5. Prioritization

The Urgent/Important Matrix- Dwight Eisenhower

Another important skill that students can start building upon is the skill to prioritize work. Using after school hours more fruitfully can go a long way when planned. So start setting routines for yourself. Decide on what is urgent and important. and complete that task first.

6. Learning to live with others

When in college, you will be sharing space more closely and often, with your peers. Be it in the dorms, library, or during commute. Be mindful of the privacy of others. Give time and space to others when they are speaking. Listen attentively. Keep your surroundings clean, maintain good hygiene.

7. Striking a balance

College gives you great freedom. Do not forget that with freedom comes responsibility. How are you becoming more responsible? Start setting your goals for the semester. Do a mid-review of your progress with your parents and/or teachers. Set time for play and bedtime leisure reading, cultivate new hobbies, participate in civic engagement opportunities.

8. Financial literacy

It is never too early to understand and learn to manage resources. Money is one key resource and students must develop responsible financial behavior to be able to manage it from early age. Learning how to calculate 5% interest on X amount or understanding how to manage personal finance could be of good advantage as you step into college. OECD study states that 73% of adults in advanced countries like Denmark have no knowledge of interest rates or 15% of children in developing countries such as Africa are unable to divide 1000 Rand equally between five people.

9. Independence

High school and college gets you some amount of independence. The flip side of which is that there is only one person to blame if  things go wrong! That means you need to start setting hard boundaries for yourself. To start with, try waking up in the morning by yourself, set your targets for the day, week, month and year and review them weekly. Remember, you are the driver of this bus so don’t drive rash.

10. Mentoring programme

After school mentoring programmes focus more on skills and developing mental dispositions. These programmes specifically focus on developing communication, self management, literacy  and leadership skills. doing short courses when you get an opportunity will not only aid your understanding but also help you become more independent and certain about the choices that you have.


The preparation for college should start in the middle school for the simple reason that if you are not prepared for high school, you cannot be prepared for college.


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