I run a summer college prep camp. The summer camp for rising 11th and 12th graders easily attracts the attention of parents which is followed by the enrollment of students. The summer camp I offer for rising 9th and 10th graders does not enjoy the same level of interest and activity. The reason for the disparity is that too many parents think 9th and 10th grade is too early to talk to their kids about college.
The reality is that involving kids earlier in discussion about college can make the entire college process easier. Why? Because the college process is so closely tied to the development and education process for children and teens.
Think about it. Children don't enter employment until they are teenagers. They don't enter a profession usually until their early twenties. But we still love to engage them in talk about what they want to be when they grow up when they are in pre-school. We participate in formal career days with parents coming into classrooms to talk about their careers when children are in elementary school because we know that children benefit from knowing about future opportunities and seeing role models engaged in those options. This is how career dreams begin.
College and other post secondary education opportunities are almost always a critical part of how we get to what we want to be when we grow up. The concept of a post secondary education needs to be introduced to a child early enough for them to include it their developing dreams and expectations about their future opportunities and choices.
Children who know about college and the role it plays in getting to the career of their dreams will have a distinct advantage over children who don't. Because children who know about college and other post secondary options will have a more complete big picture vision of their future options, they will have more interest in those options at an earlier age.
The earlier a child understands that their entire k-12 education is a set of sequential building blocks that will impact what choices they have after 12th grade, the more relevant their homework and development of academic skills will be to them.
Imagine how different classrooms would be in this country if children were running toward learning instead of away from it. Letting them in early on the strong link between their possible adventures at 18 and how well they master their writing and math will make a huge difference for them.
It is NEVER too early to introduce the idea of college and post secondary education to your child once they are old enough to begin talking about what they want to be when they grow up.