For parents with children in elementary school, the prospect of college can seem distant yet daunting. With the numbers of students applying to college increasing every year, many parents wonder what they can do to help prepare their child for college. Here are three areas that you can focus on to help your child improve their college and career readiness.
Most children don't know of many careers outside of what they are exposed to, such as teacher, doctor, and firefighter. Elementary school students are at an ideal age to learn about a variety of careers. The more exposure your child has, the more opportunities they have to be inspired and develop skills as they learn more about careers. This helps your child see the real world impacts of academic subjects and start to think about the future.
One way to do this is to talk about the different careers people have who make things your child uses and sees every day. For example, you can highlight the variety of different jobs displayed in the end credits of a film. You can also look at a household appliance and think about the different people who worked to create it: designers, engineers, manufacturers, product testers, truck drivers, marketing employees, sales employees, even the writer of the instruction manual. Engaging in discussions like this with your child helps them develop critical thinking skills while exposing the to a variety of careers they aren't likely to think of without some parental guidance.
Students in elementary school often have a limited understanding of what college is. It is also important for students to be exposed so that when it comes time to apply to colleges they are more familiar with schools in the area. One way to take advantage of this is through community events held by the schools. Some local examples include Rutgers Day and TCNJ’s Community Fest. If you or your relatives attended college, sharing positive stories with your child can help students develop a greater awareness of college. Being exposed to college young helps your child better understand what can happen in their future.
Self-Awareness and Engagement
Elementary school students are at an ideal age to get involved in a variety of after school activities. Participating in these activities gives children a chance to figure out what really interests them, and what they have a talent for. These burgeoning self-awareness skills will grow to become vital in high school when they begin the process of applying to college.
Elementary school is also a great time to get involved with community service. Your child can try a variety of different service activities until they discover a passion. Colleges love to see commitment and dedication, so it is best to experiment early so that they know what they want to focus on in high school. While colleges don't normally look at a resume or student activities before high school, your child can bring up long term commitments in other sections of their college applications. These commitments that your child would have for 5 or more years is huge plus for colleges.1