Don’t Wait Until the 11th Hour (or Grade)! Middle School is the Perfect Time to Help Your Kids Explore their Interests
Aparna Huprikar and Jamie Lewis
UFit College Consulting
You don't have to be the parent of the most competitive student to start thinking about laying the groundwork for high school activities while your child is still in middle school. Helping your child find ways to explore their interests early on will give them a head start down the college planning runway and ensure they are ready to take off when senior year comes along.
Eighth grade is the perfect time to start thinking about areas where your child has demonstrated aptitude, interest, and talent. Throughout middle school, parents can help their children explore different activities to find areas that spark their interests and bring them joy. Have them consider activities inside and outside of their middle school. Encourage them to join a sports team, play a musical instrument, try out for the school play, join a religious youth group, take art or robotics classes, volunteer at an animal shelter, or prepare meals for the homeless, etc. The goal is to let them experience new things and find out what truly excites them.
Once they get to high school, they will then have a better idea of which areas they want to become further involved in through the expanded high school offerings. Ideally, your kids will be participating in high school extracurriculars for true interest and passion and not just to have something to put on their college applications. Exploring interests early will be genuinely additive to your child's experience in high school and will inform their core and elective class selections and help them decide what they want to study further in college.
Academics will always play an important role in college admissions, and a student’s profile can be further enhanced by their genuine interest and demonstrable growth in extracurricular activities. While it is good for students to do some further exploration of multiple activities early in high school, college admissions officers like to see continuity, longevity, growth, and leadership in at least a couple of extracurricular activities.
How can parents help their middle-schoolers find their passion? Here are some tips:
Early exploration, experience, and planning will result in an organically competitive applicant profile for colleges by the time students are ready to apply.
At UFit College Consulting, we work with middle school and high school students to help them find their passions. We provide valuable guidance regarding activities that are aligned with their interests and strengths, giving them a sufficient runway to demonstrate a growth trajectory in these areas. For students who may not have a clear idea of what they want to pursue, we help them find their areas of interest and develop a concrete plan.