All years of high school are important to preparing for college. Ninth and tenth grade are years when students jump-start both their GPA and their activity resume. Eleventh grade is the year that students ramp up college efforts with visits, essays and an ever increasing amount of rigor in their courses and leadership in their extra-curriculars. Twelfth grade is the year students continue to add rigor to their course schedule and more leadership to their activity resume.
Too often, both students and parents are unaware of the important role that each year of high school plays in preparing students for college. Students who do not start preparing for college early will feel the impact later in terms of which colleges are likely to accept their admission applications.
The reason parents are often unaware of the importance of academic and activity choices on later opportunities is partly because students who are top achievers are often in similar activities and classes. Their parents know each other but are less likely to know students and families who are late to get on the achievement track.
Parents are an important part of the advising team for their teens. They need to be aware, as early as possible, of opportunities that can help their teens have the best college opportunities. A proactive step for parents is to ask college admissions professionals, middle school and high school counselors about opportunities while their child is still in elementary and middle school.