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College Preparation in Middle School Is Not Too Early


As a senior at Montclair High School, the year has been overwhelming with reminders about grades, college applications, scholarships, and FAFSA. I wish I had found out earlier about the classes in high school that would fit my chosen major, college funding opportunities, and overall college preparation information to better myself for my senior year and feel less stressed.


College preparation would be beneficial as early as middle school, to ease student’s transition to high school and decrease the burden of junior and senior years. The idea of preparing middle schoolers for college applications is nothing new. University professionals, including those behind the U.S. News Education Report, agree that middle school is the groundwork for high school and beyond that year-by-year preparation is essential in strengthening student’s academic resumes. 


“It is imperative that students are prepared to make the most of their high school experience by the first day of freshman year. Middle school is practice for high school…from an academic standpoint…what the student takes in middle school really sets the table for their trajectory starting in ninth grade,” Sarrah Harberson, founder of the private college counseling firm Application Nation, stated. The article helps parents understand how to prepare their children throughout middle school to increase their chances of getting into college.


Additionally, with more information, students can feel more confident succeeding in high school and understanding their future options. At the Montclair middle schools, few resources are spoken about on the Montclair Public Schools Website or in person for upcoming high school students and their parents to learn about the recommended routes to advance in high school and have a smoother college application process. I spoke to two middle school students to grasp the knowledge they’ve received about high school.


“Teachers don’t talk about high school unless it is a warning when we get in trouble or to scare us. They focus more on our behavior; for example, they say in high school they wouldn’t accept any disobedience, but we do not hear any actual recommendations on what we should do once we are there,” Glenfield eighth grader Sydney Roper said. This observation showcases why highlighting educational resources for students to learn about high school is essential rather than placing fearful thoughts in their heads that can hinder their motivations.  


Another eighth grader at Buzz Aldrin shared her experience. “Sometimes we hear about the expectations teachers will have for us and that we need to try harder in our classes now to get into and succeed in higher math and science levels in high school,” Orly Dinour said. 


Maximizing the spread of information about the help and opportunities available to Montclair students is crucial to helping them achieve their future goals. Events for incoming students exist at the high school, such as Freshman Parent Orientation, where students can come to the high school to become accustomed to the environment and ask questions. 


Programs such as the IMANI Program also offer a Summer Transition to 9th grade for incoming first-year students to accustom them to the demands of high school. The program also has a College Advocacy Center to assist students through college admissions. Montclair students can also utilize local scholarships, such as the Montclair Scholarship Fund, which awards college-bound seniors to help fund their educational journeys. 


Parents may argue that beginning the college preparation process in middle school will stress students out, and that they should be able to live out their youth without those alarms. However, by preparing middle school students for high school, they can feel more at ease throughout their four years and college application season. Educational professionals in middle schools can help by holding program planning seminars to discuss future high school responsibilities and possibilities such as classes, clubs, sports, dual enrollment, community service, standardized testing, financial aid, and more. By getting ahead of the curve, we can help students take advantage of all their options, plan for their success, and allow for less stress come junior and senior year.


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About the Contributor
Madison Sanchez
Madison Sanchez, Staff Writer
Madison Sanchez is a senior at Montclair High School. When she is not writing for the Mountaineer she is eating great food at her family's restaurant (Meet Me At Madison's shameless plug ;)). She enjoys trying new things, traveling especially to the Dominican Republic, watching movies, and listening to multi-generational music.

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