I had a parent of a 7th grader contact me this week about working with her student. Now early preparation, particular for students interested in BS/MD programs and other highly selective colleges, is great, can you start preparing for college too early?
Yes and no. It depends on how you define preparing.
I typically don’t start working with students until near the end of 8th grade at the earliest and the focus at that point is on making sure that the student is taking the right classes in their freshman year which can affect all of their future classes. Before that time, I am always concerned about stressing the student out too much with an early start.
Becoming a competitive candidate for a BS/MD program involves many steps but almost all of those steps occur once the student is in high school. For example, colleges in their applications almost never care about anything the student did before 9th grade.
Because of those factors I tell parents of younger students like this to call me back when the student is getting ready to start high school.
That being said, there are some things that students can do before 9th grade that can be important. First, get good grades. Now, colleges and BS/MD programs will not care about your grades before 9th grade but a student that gets used to getting good grades early on tends to continue to get good grades.
Second, start volunteering. Again, colleges aren’t going to be concerned about early volunteering like this but students who get an early taste for helping others often start volunteering as part of their regular routine. And regular, consistent volunteering in high school is very important to BS/MD programs.
Third, the younger student should start exploring their interests. If they have an interest in a sport, or an instrument, or theater or whatever, have them try these activities before high school. What they decide they like, or don’t like, really isn’t important. But identifying a passion or interest early on allows the student to develop that interest while in high school and maybe get some leadership experience as well.
Getting an early start can work out great for some students. But they shouldn’t be worrying about particular colleges or majors or applications or anything of that sort. It doesn’t help and often hurts by stressing the student out.
And if you want to work with my firm? Give me a call right before 9th grade.