Tips on getting middle schoolers interested in college

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A guest post by Carol Miller

I went into our 7th grade Family and Consumer Science classes both yesterday and today.  The kids had just finished a research project on a career they were interested in.  It was great to be able to go into classes and talk with them as they have just finished their research.

I started by asking them several questions:

  • Who has ever been on a college campus?
  • How many of them have researched a career that requires some sort of training or college?
  • Can everyone attend college?  (Many “No” answers were given.)

I ended my questioning with:

  • What are some reasons you think people don’t go to college?

The answers they gave me included:

  • people can’t afford it
  • maybe they aren’t smart enough
  • they have disabilities
  • they don’t want to go

I then talked to them about how college can be affordable.  Even Cornell University (which is in our backyard) has a program where if your parents make under a certain amount, has a no loan program.  This makes it truly affordable for everyone.We also crossed off the list “not smart enough.”  Community colleges will accept everyone from the counties they serve.  You may not be able to get into a particular major right away, but you can take the classes that will help you to get there.”Disabilities.”  Some colleges have special programs for students with even significant disabilities.  Maybe students won’t earn a degree, but they will learn independent living skills and job training skills to help them find a job.”Don’t want to go.”  Really this is the only reason for people not to attend college.  My hope for them, however, is that they want to, and will help them get there.

From there we played College Prep BINGO.

I also had them fill out the I Have A Plan worksheet, which I have hanging in the hallway outside my office.

Just before it was time to leave I talked to them about this month’s College Spotlight (Marist College) and I asked them to write on a post it note one thing that they learned with me today.  I had them post it on an easel located by the classroom door.

These are my favorite responses:
  • You can go to college even if you don’t have enough $.
  • College is complicated
  • College isn’t a dream, it’s a plan.
  • That it is never too early to think about college.

How do you promote early college awareness?

This post originally appeared on The Middle School Counselor, and was republished with permission.
Carol has organized School Counseling Conferences for several years in Central New York through TACA and has presented at these conferences on College Admissions, Best School Counseling Programs, and Sharing Counseling Resources. She is a member and past President of the Tompkins Area Counselor Association, and  a member of NYSSCA and NACAC, and NYSACAC. Carol is a mom to three sons, a crafter at heart, and a soccer and basketball coach in her free time.
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