The key to helping your junior get in and get money for college

Parents of juniors…I want college admissions to be a stress-free process for your teen. Don’t see how that’s possible? Let me share some intentional things you can do to support your teen’s success to help them (and you!) avoid stressing out. The key is to approach the process in a way that makes sense for your teen, beginning with ownership. 

Own the Process 

First off, having your junior own the process (being engaged, responsible and accountable) will take a lot of pressure off you as a parent. But it goes deeper than that. I know from the research, and from experience with my own children that when your teen takes ownership of the process, they:

  • are much more successful in the college admissions process and more likely to get into the top colleges on their ist
  • can be sure they are a good fit for the college, and as a result, 
  • end up getting scholarship money. 

 

The key takeaway is to be sure your teen is in charge so that they are owning the process

 

Now that we’ve established that, where can you and your teen start with finding money for college?

 

External Scholarship Opportunities 

Let’s talk about external scholarships, which are scholarships that are not from the colleges, but from external sources. Oftentimes families are unaware of the other resources that are out there. This year especially, you want to be intentional around external scholarships. Here are five in particular that you may not have considered. 

 

1. Scholarships from Companies

Many companies, including law firms, major restaurants and retail companies offer scholarships. One widely-known example is the Coca-Cola scholarship for seniors which is a very large scholarship. However, your junior can position themselves to compete for that scholarship going into senior year. Also look at some of the companies in your own community that offer scholarships, which you can often find on their websites.

 

2. Scholarships from Civic Organizations 

Another great resource is civic organizations and foundations. Sometimes they are need-based (which require you to provide proof of need) while others involve a contest, where you complete an application with an essay to qualify. Now is a good time to research the civic organizations in your community that offer scholarships.

 

3. Scholarships from Credit Unions 

Credit unions are wonderful community neighbors, and they often will have scholarships as well. Sometimes, there are additional offerings for members of that credit union. If you’re a member of a credit union, definitely check that out! I recommend that you look into these opportunities in junior year; some of the requirements are junior-year specific.  Another note regarding credit unions: if you know that there is a credit union that offers a scholarship and you’re not a member, now is the time to become a member. If you plan ahead your teen can position themselves for that particular award now. 

 

4. Scholarships from Your Employer 

There are a lot of employers that offer scholarships. I believe that NiSource, the energy company here in Columbus, offers scholarships. See if your employer offers scholarships as well. Again, junior year is the time to look into the criteria. 

 

5. National Merit Scholarship Program 

Most students take the PSAT in junior year and their score will determine whether they qualify for national merit. One thing to know regarding the PSAT, is that it is not really considered for college admission. However, when your junior takes the PSAT and scores in the 99th percentile, then they qualify for a national merit scholarship. Have your teen research the criteria for the National Merit scholarship. 

 

Who Can Apply for External Scholarships?

Although you have a junior, be aware that you can apply for an external scholarship beginning at age 13 (keep that in mind if you have younger children as well). If your child wins a scholarship, that money is held and then sent to the college when they enroll. I encourage families with younger teens to apply for scholarships. Not only does it develop their resilience, it also helps to instill that growth mindset that we want our students to have. Plus, they will be adding to their portfolio of writing samples as well.

What your junior can do in December to prepare for college

If your teen is a junior, you are probably already overwhelmed with a lot of information coming from your teen’s school, neighbors, friends who have kids and maybe even your workplace. With that information overload, it can be hard sometimes to prioritize and stay on top of things. I want to make sure that you don’t get left behind in this process. 

Here are some things that you can do right now in the month of December. 

Researching Colleges 

The first action item would be researching colleges in order to learn whether or not that college is a good fit for them. When they find ones that are a good fit, they will likely thrive in terms of their years in college and that’s what we want for them. 

I’ve mentioned before the five areas of fit which are: academic, social, financial, vocational and cultural fit (You can refer to my previous article on fit here ). 

Decide Which Test They will Take 

The second thing they can be doing in the month of December is deciding which test they’re going to focus on –  the SAT or the ACT. Some states have one particular test as a graduation requirement, for example in Ohio, it is the ACT. However, many students still take the SAT because that’s the test that they favor. Taking both tests is actually no longer required. 

When students are taking both just for the sake of taking both, not only does it waste money, but it wastes time as well. I recommend that students focus on the one that’s best for them, which could even be based on the schedule or availability. Whatever it is, just focus on one test because colleges will take either one, there’s no need to do both. 

After they decide which test to focus on, they need to decide how they’re going to prepare. The month of December is a great time for them to prep for the test they’ll be taking. I usually recommend at least 6 to 12 weeks of prep time. 

 

      Read more about preparing the for test

 

Read a book for pleasure during winter break

There is plenty of research to support why teens should continue to read (and why they don’t do it, as well). Becoming a real reader can improve your teen’s vocabulary, make them a better writer, help them get into college, and enlarge their breadth of understanding of the world around them.  Click here to learn more

But did you know that one of the most commonly used prompts for college admissions essays is “Tell about a book you read for pleasure and why it should be required”?

 

So how can you get your teen to read during their “downtime?”

 

One resource I highly recommend is  Real Ballers Read – a popular Book-stagram with podcast interviews and other literary fun for teens from near-peer mentors. This is a great place to help your teen find a book to read during the winter break.

These are the important action steps that your junior can take during the month of December – researching colleges, determining which test they’re going to focus on (and how they will prepare for the test), and reading a book for pleasure over winter break. Starting this process now, as opposed to waiting until the new year, will make sure that your teen is on track and not feeling behind and rushed as we get into the spring. 

 

For more help with navigating junior year, sign up to receive my FREE College Prep Toolkit. This resource includes my Junior Year Roadmap, so you and your teen will know what they should be doing each month. 

5 Things your junior can do in November

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – junior year is so important because it is the start of the college admissions process. I want to help make this time less stressful to keep you from hurrying through this process at the last minute and avoid having your teen apply to colleges that are not a good fit for them. 

 

Here are five tips as far as actions that your teen can be doing in the month of November. 

 

What Your Teen Can Do in November 

  • Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals 

The first action that your teen can do this month is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. These will help ensure that junior year is a time that is intentional for them. Teens are just like adults in many ways, they want to have a sense of control and setting goals is a part of that. It helps them to be accountable in terms of their actions through junior year – that’s where we want to start. 

 

S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. All of these components will help set your teen up for success and make sure that they have a sense of what they want to accomplish this year. 

 

Goals can be related to academics, be centered around mental health and self-care or pertain to athletics. They should really take the time to reflect and think about these goals. 

 

Teens should have 3 to 5 goals – any more than that and it becomes overwhelming. I always suggest that one of them is a personal goal. It doesn’t have to always be about school. Maybe there’s something they want to do within their community or there is a skill they want to develop. Make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal. 


  • Self-Assessment 

The second thing I would suggest is doing some type of self-assessment; there are a number of them out there. This helps teens develop their self awareness and know what they desire instead of everyone telling them what they should do or who they should be. It is important to give teens the tools that may help them with figuring some of that out. A great tool that I like to use is a personality assessment similar to Myers Briggs, but designed for teens. It’s good to understand your personality and how to determine the best fit for you based on that. 

 

As students are starting to look ahead to which colleges should be on their list, one of the things I emphasize is that the list starts with the student; it doesn’t start with the college. They have to know who they are, what their desires are and their “why” behind wanting to go to certain colleges. The self-assessment can help with that.


  • Career Interest Inventory 

The third one is a career interest inventory, which is sometimes part of the self-assessments. The career interests inventory can help your teen to think about their major and what they may want to study when they’re in college. 

 

I was talking to one student recently and they wanted to do a little bit of everything. Having many interests can be a great thing and some colleges support that love in terms of having all of their different interests. However, a career interest inventory can help with narrowing down all of your interests into a more concise list. 

 

Also, maybe having all of those different interests just means that they are undecided and that’s okay. If your teen is undecided, then looking at colleges that value students who are undecided can be a good idea. A career interest inventory can help narrow it down a little bit to find colleges that are a good academic fit. 


  • Nurturing Teacher Relationships 

The fourth thing juniors should be doing is nurturing teacher relationships, especially with core content teachers (English, math, science, social studies and foreign language). You may have a great relationship with your band teacher, and that’s alright, but usually recommendation letters have to come from core teachers. Also, it is a good idea to have teachers write their recommendation letters in junior year rather than scrambling around to handle this during senior year. 

 

It is important to nurture these relationships in a sincere way. Think of a couple of teachers whose class you enjoy – it can even be a class that’s really challenging for you. Get to know that teacher through talking or setting a time to meet outside of class time, ask questions in class and engage in that way.  One of the things that teachers will be rating students on in their recommendations is productive class discussion. Your participation in class can be a way to let your teacher get to know you and for you to really get to know that teacher. 

 

I recommend that my students meet with one or two teachers each month during the school year, and that’s one way they can intentionally nurture those teacher relationships in a sincere way and develop the skills of how to self-advocate. 


  • Contributing in Junior Year 

The fifth one is for your teen to consider how they’re contributing in junior year, whether in their community or at school. A student’s activity resume shouldn’t just be one hour here and a half hour there. They need to become an active participant, contributing in a meaningful way. If there’s a club on their activities resume but they are not contributing or participating in it, then they need to take it off of their resume. They should focus on those things that they enjoy doing and want to be committed to. 

 

Some students say they need to do volunteer work just to put it on their resume. I remind them that that is not the reason to do volunteer work. Contributing to your community by giving back, helping animals, working with other students because they love tutoring – those are all great reasons. It’s not about checking a box or doing it for the sake of your resume. 

 

Next year when they’re completing their applications, the colleges will see everything up through junior year. They don’t want to send in an activities resume that is not consistent and doesn’t show their commitment. It’s a waste of your teen’s time, and it’s a waste of the colleges’ time. They need to think about how they want to contribute this year and do it in a meaningful way. 

 

Parents, each month there is something that your teen can be doing in an intentional way throughout junior year. Junior year is where it’s all happening and it’s going to be a short time before they’re going to be applying to colleges. Be sure to check out my roadmap for junior year! It’s a month by month guide of the things your teen can do to get in and also get money for college.

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Preparing for the SAT or ACT

Your teen has taken the practice tests and knows which one best represents their abilities. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part…preparing for the test. Keep reading for my top tips for preparing for the SAT or ACT. 

 

Preparing for the Test 

 

Independent Study

There are a number of ways that students can prepare for either of these tests. Whether they’re taking the SAT or the ACT, they could get a test prep book from the library or from one of the testing agencies to study on their own. I’ve had a number of students who are more disciplined and study on their own. I would recommend that they spend a specific amount of time going through the book and doing the practice tests. They should be going through the different sections of the tests and even on occasion, maybe on the weekend, sit down and go through the entire test for the amount of time of the real test. This extra step can help ensure they are prepared. Again, If your teen is disciplined in that way, that’s a great approach. 

 

Online Programs 

Another way to prepare is using an online service. My son used an online program and that helped him stay on task. The online program provided the practice test and scoring as well so he could see how he was doing. There were also video modules that complemented the material and practice that he was doing. It worked out very well for him and helped him improve his score. There are a number of these different automated online programs available. 

 

Getting a Tutor 

The third approach, which could be a bit more expensive, is getting a tutor. For a number of my students hiring a tutor was the best approach. You can receive tutoring either individually or in a class setting. This is also a great way to ensure that your teen is being held accountable. 

One of the things I want to encourage you to do if you decide to go that route is to interview the tutor. Below you will find some questions that I prepared for interviewing tutors. When it comes to working with a teacher or tutor, some of that learning comes through being able to connect with them. By interviewing the tutor, you can ensure they are a good fit for your family. 

Before interviewing the tutor your teen should first ask themselves a couple of questions. The first is determining how they learn best: would having a one-on-one tutor or a tutor in a class setting allow them to learn best? They should also identify why they need a tutor. 

 

When interviewing the tutor possible questions to ask: 

  • How will you measure your student’s progress throughout their session together? 
  • What kind of homework will they do in between sessions? 

 

(This will allow your teen to plan their schedule and make sure that they have the right expectations around what they should be doing in between time because not only will they be preparing during sessions but also between their time together.) 

 

  • Can you provide a demonstration of a typical session? 

For example, if they have a difficult math homework problem from school can they share it with the tutor and then have the tutor demonstrate how they would explain solving that problem? That can be a way to ensure that the tutor’s teaching style aligns with your teen’s learning style.

 

  • What kind of training have you  had in terms of tutoring?

I know a lot of tutors do professional development. Many of them take the test themselves to make sure that they understand what their students are going through. 

 

Some other questions that parents should also consider would be their cancelation policy, how much they charge, their availability over the holiday break and also asking for references from other parents. By talking with other parents you can get a good sense of how that tutor works, learn about how they engaged their students, as well as their test score results. 

 

If a tutor says they usually help their students get a certain increase over their practice score, then that may give you some indication around their success. Of course it may vary with your own teen. I wouldn’t set the expectation of going from a 22 to 30, but at least getting a sense for how they’re going to engage with your teen. Also, check to see how they will follow through on checking in on the student’s progress between sessions. 

 

If you decide to use a practice book or an online course, then certainly it could be similar in regards to finding out about the best book or program for your teen by reading about past success stories. Any case studies or testimonials available online would be a great resource to check out. 

 

At the end of the day, it’s going to be a two-way street in terms of your teen participating and doing the work. You don’t want to make the investment if they’re not going to follow through on their side. However, if they do follow through they really can achieve those great results. 

 

Have you signed up to receive my FREE College-Prep Toolkit? It includes a Junior Year Roadmap to help you navigate junior year and to know what your teen should be doing each month to stay on track. 

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3 Tips for Finding the Right College for Business Majors

Is your teen planning to major in business and having difficulty deciding which colleges should be on their list? Keep reading for my top three tips for finding the right college for your teen who wants to pursue a career in business. 

 

Look at the functional areas within “Business” If you search online for “business majors” you will come up with a list of thousands of colleges, so when students say they’re interested in business, I ask them, “What are the specific areas of business that interest you?” There are many different functional areas within the business realm, such as:

  • accounting
  • marketing
  • finance
  • operations

Looking specifically at one of these areas will help guide them to different sets of colleges. If your teen is looking into a liberal arts college that doesn’t offer business, they could try looking into economics which will touch on business. Again, the first step is thinking about the functional area of interest.

 

Research summer programs for business majors

One of the key things I recommend to students who are interested in business is to consider a summer program to learn more about specific areas of business, such as programs focused on investment banking, finance, marketing or entrepreneurship. There are countless summer programs out there, many virtual.

 

What Does the Program Offer?

After your teen considers their functional area of interest and looks into summer programs, my next tip would be to look at what the college programs offer. For example, the University of Southern California has an international program in different areas of business that allows for the opportunity to study abroad. There could also be organizations within the college to help get your teen more involved and around other students in the same field.  

Side Note: Another thing to consider when your teen is fine-tuning their list of colleges is the math requirements for different programs; many require that you take calculus in high school. If they’re not on track for that, it can hurt their chances of being admitted. For some business programs, there may be an option to test out of that course. If that is the case, make sure they take that test by the end of junior year. 

 

Recap for Finding the Right College for Business Majors 

If your teen is considering majoring in business, they should first look at the functional areas within business to find their area of interest. Narrowing their interests down will help with finding colleges that are a good fit. Secondly, your teen should look into summer programs as a viable way to learn about the functional areas of interest. Finally, look at what the colleges offer to support your teen’s success so they can thrive while they’re there and have rich career opportunities afterwards as well. 

Junior year is a critical year for the college admissions process. I want to make sure that your teen is successful throughout the school year and not overwhelmed by this process. If their initial list is too overwhelming, your teen may lean towards popular colleges they’ve heard of before and that’s not going to serve them well.  

 

Grab your copy of our College Prep Toolkit now to ensure your success in helping your teen navigate through this school year

5 Tips for when your teen returns to the classroom

Transitioning from online to in-person learning brings another set of challenges.

For a lot of the parents and high school students I’ve talked to, it’s exciting. For others, its’s daunting. One thing I know is no one is returning “back to normal.” Schools have changed. Routines have been upended. Familiar students and teachers may have moved and new ones entered.

Get Ready. Get Set. Change Again.

The number one thing you can do to help with returning to the classroom is recognize how difficult a change can be. It’s going to be just as hard to flip back into school as it was to embrace virtual.

Even if your teen is returning to the same school, they are not returning to the same environment. I know I’ve changed. Really, who hasn’t been changed by the past 18-months? There may be different routines, new rules, safety procedures and for some, spending all day in a mask will be an added difficulty.

Some kids will feel a loss going back to school. They might miss the family time. Home might have felt comforting. Social interactions in-person may bring renewed worries about their hair or clothes or fitting in- really about anything and everything.

As you consider how you can support your teen with this “new normal”, here are 5 quick tips to consider.

What Parents Can Do

Begin by recognizing back-to-the-classroom may be stressful. Helping them adjust to yet another new normal starts with hearing them and feeling for them. Remember optimism is contagious so spread some around.

Set A New Schedule- Since the previous commute was from the bed to the laptop, they may have forgotten how to build in enough prep time. Help them in planning enough time to eat, shower, dress and commute. Getting up earlier means winding down earlier is crucial.

Get a Renewed Grip on Screen Time – Keep in mind any good screen limits you had before the pandemic probably flew out the window. Work again toward a healthy screen time balance. Gradually reducing electronics time by swapping with in-person activities is a good method.

 

Tip- One tip I’ve found that really works is to have your teen charge their phone in your bedroom overnight. Not having instant access to every text or platform will help them get back into a good sleep-wake routine.

 

Get Informed- Read up on your school’s return-to-school policies. Know how they will handle infection outbreaks, mask requirements and rules on social distancing. This is also a good time to discuss ways to handle difficulties with your student. They are going to encounter vaccine-no vaccine controversies, people who disagree with Covid-related policies and outright misinformation. Asking them how they will handle someone whose opinion is different than their own is a good way to get into that discussion.

Offer Coping Ideas – Give your kids some strategies for first-week butterflies. Remind them everyone is feeling the same way. Suggest if they make someone else feel comfortable, it will also make them feel better. It’s as simple as smiling or just saying hi to the person next to you.

Talk It Out – Help them verbally explore how they have changed during the time of Covid. Remind them their old friends will seem familiar but may have changed too and there will be chances to include new people in their friends’ circle.

Keep an Eye Out – Watch for behavior changes that could mean they are stressed. It takes time to adjust to changes so remember to allow them time to accept their new normal.

Take time for you – Self-care is not selfish. With so many more demands on your time as you manage career and family, it’s even more important for you to take time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I encourage you to find ways to integrate self-care into your routines every day. For example, an easy self-care practice is keeping a daily gratitude journal.

The week of August 2 is Back to School Week on Keep C.A.L.M. for Moms, my LinkedIn Live show. Join me daily for timely tips and insight to make this the best school year ever. 

If you have a college-bound teen, be sure to check out our College Prep Toolkit here: https://bit.ly/toolkit_5

5 reasons College-bound Teens must Set Goals

campus visit teen

Every school year brings surprises, so teens can’t plan ahead for every event. However, setting 3-5 foundational goals each school year can make a difference in its success. Examples of goals that my own teens and teen clients have set include:

  • Maintain a _____ GPA
  • Meet with a teacher after school each week
  • Increase volunteer hours at _________________ by 1 hour per week
  • Start a ___________ club at my community center
  • Complete art portfolio with __ drawings by end of semester

WHY GOALS?teen with parent

Setting goals during high school can help a teen in numerous ways even beyond college . . . for life success:

  1. Have a Purpose – Goals gives teens something to work for – a sense of purpose and direction. One of the first questions I ask my teen clients is “Why do you want to go to college?” If a teen can articulate why they want to go, then it makes it easier to help them find the best fit as well as have a reason to continue being their best.
  2. Stay Motivated – Goals give teens that extra boost to keep going, especially if they start to waiver.
  3. Believe in Yourself – Goals give teens the inspiration to aim for something that they may not have thought possible.
  4. Be Accountable – Goals remind teens at the end of the semester or school year of what they have accomplished or NOT.
  5. Get help – Goals give teens a way to be more specific when they ask for help. The best help comes when others know how to help

START NOW

The question for every college-bound teen – What are your goals for this semester? School year?

Responding to this question is the first step towards a successful school year. Please share your high school year and goals.

 

Top 10 Must-Do’s for College-bound Juniors

ithaca college campus

College-bound high school juniors have a full plate of activities not only at school but throughout the rest of their lives, too.

Not surprisingly, I often hear from my juniors how tough it is. Junior year is a particularly challenging time because the course load may be more demanding. Often, this is when the stress of college is more piercing, too. 

Sometimes, juniors might even avoid the college conversation altogether. But the delay will only make it harder in the fall of senior year. 

Must-dos for college-bound juniors.

To help you manage stress and ensure your future success, here are 10 must-dos for every college-bound junior:

juniors spring campus visit

  1. Know why you want to go to college. This is the most important question to ask yourself before doing anything college-related! Your “why” will help you determine the right school, program, and path to getting where you want to be. 
  2. Take challenging courses. Even if you think your grade may be lower, taking a harder class will show college admissions officers that you push yourself.
  3. Read for pleasure. Yes—reading IS fun! If you have a lot of homework, you can read during holiday breaks. Reading for pleasure is the best way to improve your test scores and write better essays. 

Do you need a little help proving to your child just how fun reading can be? Here are 5 tips to help them learn to love reading!

  1. Research colleges. It’s easy to assume that you know all you need to know about a college. The truth is, not doing research will shortchange you. It can lead to a wrong college choice and you could pay more for college than you need to. Real research is reviewing the website in detail and being able to discuss why you’re interested in a college (beyond location and appearance).

 

 

  1. Plan several campus visits. Many colleges offer special junior preview visits. Take advantage of those opportunities as a way to see dorms, learn about the admissions process, meet students, and learn if you can see yourself there.

Campus visits don’t have to be a dreadful experience. Here are my 5 top tips for a stress-free campus visit. 

  1. Know your financial situation. Will you need to apply for scholarships or financial aid? It’s not too early to talk with your parents about the financial considerations for college.
  2. Get to know teachers. It’s likely that your junior year teachers may write your college recommendations. Start as soon as you can getting to know your teachers and letting them get to know you. Here’s how college-bound juniors can get best teacher recommendations before their first college application
  3. Set a summer goal. Do you want to learn more about an academic subject? Start a business? Get a job? Do a language immersion? Do community service? There are so many summer opportunities and programs for rising seniors. Achieving your summer goal will give you experience that will help you in your college search and writing essays.
  4. Take SAT or ACT, but not both. All colleges will accept either test so determine which test is best for you and stick with it. Plan your test dates so that you can take a second test before senior year, if necessary.
  5. Know yourself. What makes you special? What are your weaknesses? Who are you really? Do some deep self-reflection, journal, or take an assessment to answer these questions. Focusing on these aspects now will help your future application stand out and allow time to correct past mistakes.

Are you struggling to find the right college? Sign up for my FREE upcoming master class!

Start now.

Juniors can make this year their best year of high school by checking off this list in the months to come. Which of these items do you feel is the hardest to get done?

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here for help. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

Rolling admissions: benefits and drawbacks 

College application checklist

7 ways to support your child during the college application process


This article was originally published on September 14, 2015, and has been republished.

 

 

4 Hot Tips To Make the Most of 10th Grade

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1569254267795{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]As the parent of a 10th grader, you may recall the heartaches of this awkward year of high school and how challenging it can be. What can make this year awkward from a college-readiness standpoint is that your teen isn’t quite fully in the college admissions phase. To make the most of this year, here are four tips that I have learned over the years:

#1 – Develop Self-awareness

This is a great year for your teen to get in touch with who they are and what they want . . . not just being who their parents say they are or imitating their friends’ interests.

Developing self-awareness can be done through taking some initial inventories and interest surveys that can help with figuring out likes and dislikes. Your school counselor may have access to some really great tools that your teen can take. The key will be making sure that they review the results with their counselor and you should get a copy as well to discuss with your teen. Perhaps interpreting the results can lead your teen to consider certain careers or help with building their interpersonal skills, depending on the survey instrument taken.

#2 – Re-evaluate friend groups

This second tip may sound a bit harsh in some way, but 10th grade is a good time for your teen to really reassess their friend groups. When I say reassess friend groups, it’s really about your teen thinking about who is a friend and who is not a friend. And if it’s someone that’s really not a good friend to them, then it’s okay to exit that relationship and not be in a place where they feel bad about themselves or unwanted.

I’ve seen a number of teens go through this experience and it’s been one that’s really been valuable for them in 10th grade. During 9th grade, they may have made some friends that weren’t the best choices. Because 11th grade will likely be a bit more intense, managing toxic relationships at school could be even more challenging. Sophomore year can be a good time to join a new group because it’s likely that there are some other classmates who are also open to new friendships.

#3 – Pursue interests

Your teen should consider pursuing what interests them . . . whether it’s a particular club at school or community service activity. The key is that whichever activity they pursue, make sure that it’s not about doing what their friends are doing or participating because mom/dad suggested. BTW, I understand that this may sound easier than it is in practice, especially if your teen does not want to be involved. A parent shared recently that they forced their teen to choose one club to join. Although I don’t recommend “forcing” a teen to do anything, you, the parent, would know best what will motivate your teen to take action.

What have you done when your teen has been reluctant to participate at school?

#4 – Spend summer wisely

Encourage your sophomore to spend their summer in a productive, intentional way.

For example, let’s say that your teen completes an interest inventory and the results show that they may be a fit for business. Then they could consider a summer internship, parrt-time job and/or countless summer business programs. These summer experiences could help them determine whether business really is an area that interest them. One of my students attended a summer business program after his sophomre year and realized that marketing interested him far more than finance. That’s an important distinction to make because business is such a broad field. (With an interest an marketing, then that could lead to getting involved with DECA during junior year.)

Whatever the experience your teen pursues during the summer, remember to be intentional about the summer and not just let the summer happen to your teen.

For more insights and tips for sophomore year, check out our 10th grade roadmap which includes specific month-by-month suggested actions, colleges worth considering and scholarships![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

4 Top Tips to Make The Most of Ninth Grade

Ninth Grade

Ninth grade is a very big deal! It’s a transitional year that can set the tone for the rest of high school and beyond.

While parents may be tempted to “back off” in terms of involvement, it’s really the time to step up your engagement. Granted, your engagement may not be as hands-on as helping in the classroom, your assistance with guiding your teen to make the most of high school is important.

Here are 4 key tips to help your teen navigate ninth grade successfully and launch into a wonderful high school experience:

Practice good organizational and study skills. These are foundational skills that your teen will continue to rely upon each and every year.

Although courses may be a bit more challenging in ninth grade, they will get even more challenging for 10th, 11th and 12th Grade. So ninth grade is a great time to start practicing those good organizational and study skills. If your teen’s skills are weak in these areas, then 9th grade is an ideal time to figure out what works. There are any number of books and/or digital tools/apps that your teen can use to develop these skills.

Get involved with only one or two activities at school. During 9th grade, there’ll be so many new things happening. . . new teachers. . . perhaps new friend groups, and more. It will be all too easy to participate in the same activities as friends. Rather than follow the crown, I would suggest that your teen figures out their own you and focus on participating in only one or two clubs (including sports). Getting involved in too many activities at once may add too much undue stress and slow down their adjustment to high school.

Map courses forward. Courses taken in 9th grade play a role in the course selection for the remainder of high school. So, rather than considering 9th grade only, you can determine the core courses for 10th 11th and 12th grade as well (includes foreign language). This can help your teen see where there may be gaps in their course schedule and plan ahead for creative ways to fill any gaps.

Be intentional about summer. Gone are the days of only “hanging out” in the summer. Having fun and going on family vacations are important. However, there are typically many more other weeks for participating in a summer program, interning, reading several books, even focusing on a creative project. Whatever it is your teen does during the summer, be intentional about it, i.e. have a reason for participating!

Check out my 9th-grade roadmap for more timely tips to navigate each month of this year! (Choose “9th Grade” with the blue button here on this page.)