3 Ways Early College Planning Benefits Students

When should students start preparing for college? Despite popular belief, the answer isn’t sophomore, junior or senior year — it’s the first day of high school. It’s essential for students, parents, and schools to inspire college-bound cultures early on, and there are programs that can help support this. 

Bridgette Yee McIntyre, Director of Student Support, from Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) offers workshops where CTY staff work with professionals in the admissions offices around the world to spread the word on what admission officers are looking for in an ideal candidate, what the trends are, and how to make sure the students will be successful. 

Bridgette spoke with Parchment regarding early college advising intervention. “The approach at CTY has always been to make sure students have the best information to find the best fit for college. Some families become set on a certain college, but our philosophy is different – it should be the best fit to ensure the student has room to grow.” says Bridgette. CTY makes sure that when they are intervening early, it’s situational. Early access makes sense for some of their under-resourced families who do not have exposure to college, so they want to start to engage them early even in the 7th and 8th grades. Bridgette goes on to say, “Let the students know college is a reality, and guide them on how they can get there, so the students have the right tools to make sure they are on board for admissions when it comes to 12th grade.” 

For more resourced families, whose parents did go to college, it is important they get the information early, but not so early they miss out on their high school experience. Let the students know there are over 4,000 schools in the U.S. they can choose from. For those students, it’s about exposing them to different colleges and universities they might not be aware of.

Ultimately, students who start planning for college early in high school can stand out to admission offices and prepare for the next step of their academic career by maintaining higher GPAs, getting involved in extracurricular programs, and applying for scholarships.

1. Motivate students to strive for academic achievements

Students who maintain high academic performance throughout all four years of high school tend to have better GPAs than those who only focus on achieving high grades during their junior and senior years.

GPA is essential when it comes to college applications. U.S. News reports that admissions offices view GPA as being more predictive than standardized test scores. Additionally, a K-12 Dive study discovered that with every incremental increase in GPA, the odds of a high school student graduating college also increased — resulting in high school GPAs predicting college graduation rates five times more accurately than ACT scores.

Maintaining a positive GPA throughout high school can also open the door to more scholarship opportunities, helping students reduce the financial burden of college tuition. When evaluating scholarship winners and their respective high school GPAs, Saving For College found that private scholarships are awarded to 17% of students with GPAs of 3.5 or higher and only 7% of students with GPAs under 2.0.

2. Encourage students to join programs that support their college goals

When students develop a college-bound mindset early, They are more inclined to get involved in school-sponsored clubs, sports, and volunteer programs. The University of South Florida reports that students who participate in extracurriculars tend to have better attendance, GPAs, and SAT scores than those who do not.

Extracurricular activities also allow students to learn more about a specific area of interest and build networks with like-minded individuals. For example, imagine a student who wants to earn a degree in digital photography. They may participate in related extracurricular activities such as taking photos for the school yearbook or newspaper, which empowers them to develop skills related to their field and get a head start on developing a portfolio.

3. Inspire students to apply for scholarships

The cost of college has continued to climb, making financial aid and scholarship awards more important than ever. Scholarship statistics from the Education Data Initiative reveal that the cost of college increases by 6.8% every year — causing tuition rates to triple in the last 20 years. However, the good news is that research from ThinkImpact shows that 58% of families use scholarships to assist in funding college. 

Scholarships help make college possible, especially for first-generation students or those from lower-income families, as they reduce the financial burden of tuition. The earlier students start thinking about pursuing higher education, the more opportunities they will have to apply for financial awards and receive funding to pursue a degree.

Start preparing for college with the Pathway to College scholarship

Our goal is to help students develop a college-bound mindset as early in their high school career as possible. With our Pathway to College Scholarship, you can receive financial awards to help you achieve a college degree after high school. Students just need to create a Parchment account, put their top three colleges into their profile and stay on track throughout their high school career. Learn more about our Pathway to College Scholarship here.

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