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.)

7 Ways to Support Your Child During the College Application Process

How to support your child during the college application process

There’s a fine line between being overbearing and being just supportive enough to let your child thrive during the college application process.

Knowing when to let go and when to hold on can be hard. But when it comes to our children, we never really let go, do we?

Many parents find it difficult to maintain a balance between providing the right amount of support during college applications and being too involved.

Because of this, I often see parents and children getting burnt out by the college application process.

In some cases, well-meaning parents might inadvertently hinder their child’s odds of getting into the school of their dreams.

When we can support our children through the college application and admissions process, but still allow them to take control and thrive, that’s when families really win.

With the right plan in place, you can help your child in a way that works for both of you!

That’s why I wrote this article.

Here are seven ways parents can support their children during the college application process.

1. Ask your child how you can help.

Some students prefer their parents to be more involved in the college application process.

Some students prefer their parents to be more involved in the college application process.

The best way to figure out how to help your child starts with asking them how, and how much help they want in the first place!

Ask them about specific tasks you can help with and what the best way to make them feel supported would be.

But remember, this process is as new for your child as it is for you. It will be a “learn as you go” type scenario, and your role may change over time.

2. Remember this is their first significant step toward independence.

Your child may have a job, a driver’s license, and other important responsibilities, but the college application process is a major step in your child’s independence.

For many students, this is their first big step in that direction!

This is a great time for your child to gain confidence in their ability to do important things.

You can be there for them as a cheerleader and a shoulder to lean on, but it isn’t your job to be involved in all of the details when your child applies to colleges.

3. Get help and offer resources.

You can be your child’s support system without having to manage every step of the college application process!

To avoid getting over-involved and to increase your child’s chances, consider hiring professional help.

When you leave some of this work to a professional, you can take comfort knowing your child has the help they need, and you can be there to help them in other ways.

Whether it’s tutoring, coaching with essays, or any other part of the college application process, there is help available, and offering this help to your child is a fantastic way to support them.

4. Remember your child isn’t you.

When your child is applying to colleges, you might experience a sort of deja vu from your own college experience. Perhaps you wish you had done things differently, or wish you could do it all again.

Either way, remember that your child’s college application is different than yours.

Projecting your own opinions and experiences onto your child isn’t necessarily the best way to support them.

Let them have their own college experience!

5. Don’t hinder the creative process.

Parents can inadvertently hinder their child’s creative process when they’re working on college application essays.

Perhaps you’re dead set on your child choosing one topic for a college essay when they feel really strongly about another.

it is ultimately their choice!

You can offer your opinion, but leave it at that and don’t force your own ideas onto your child.

Allow your child to explore their creative side. Unique essays and applications help your child stand out.

6. Motivate, don’t dictate.

When you motivate your child during the college process rather than dictating their every move, it helps them establish their independence and feel empowered in their choices.

One way to do this is by encouraging them to make college campus visits and maybe even going with them.

Since you know their preferences and tendencies so well, you can help your teen compare and contrast college options. Walking a campus, touring with a student guide, and speaking with faculty can offer assurance in ways a brochure or website never can.

This is also a way to bond and build great memories with your child!

Don’t miss these other tips for making college campus visits with your child.

7. Just listen.

A parent’s ideal role during the college application and admissions process is best described as the supporter. And one of the best ways to support your child is by just listening.

As tempting as it may be to offer advice and always try to fix things, sometimes your child just needs someone to listen to their fears, disappointments, and successes!

Lending a listening ear can strengthen your bond and provide a critical source of support for your child during this time.

Putting it all together.

Every child, parent, and family is different, and the best way to support a child during the college admissions process can vary.

But when you focus on these key things, you will help make the college application process easier on both you and your child:

  • Speaking with your child about how you can help.
  • Remembering this is their first step toward major independence.
  • Offering professional help and resources.
  • Not hindering their creative process.
  • Motivating, not dictating.
  • Just listening!

If you are a busy parent who wants to help your college-bound child reach their full potential, don’t miss my “Get In and Get Money” Workshop!

Need a little more guidance?

For one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about helping your child with the college admissions and application process, you’ll want to check out these articles too:

What To Do When Your Teen Hates Reading
4 Tips to Help Your Teen Study Better
Will This Activity Help My Teen Get into College?


How parents can win at the college admissions game

There’s a lot of stress and hype about college. It’s understandable because we hear so much about how competitive it is to get in to college while the rising costs of tuition makes college a major investment.

Parents of college-bound teens are concerned about their teen getting in to college and getting scholarships. Depending on the grade of your teen, though, those concerns may differ greatly. Here are examples of concerns that I see in my practice at each grade level:

  • Parent of middle schooler concern – how the right high school can make a difference with your teen’s college chances
  • Parent of 9th grader concern – the activities resume and how community service or athletics play a role
  • Parent of 10th grader concern – how the summer before junior year is spent and how to balance academic rigor
  • Parent of an 11th grader concern – how changes to the Common App will affect the college application process

parents can get help with college admissionsThese are very different concerns and each make a difference when it comes to your teen’s chances of getting in to their top choice colleges and getting the money to make college affordable.

Parents play an important role in college admissions because let’s face it . . . sometimes, teens need a bit of nagging to do what they need to do. More importantly, parents often don’t have the same level of support from the school as their teen. Parents are then left to sift through countless websites for reliable information that’s quickly overwhelming.

You can join me for a quick 20-minute training if you have a teen currently in the 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th grade during my FB Live series the week of April 24-28. Attend one or all sessions to get the insight and tools to help your teen achieve their best potential.

Facebook Live: How to help your Teen
Get in and Get Money for College
April 24-28, 2017


Day 1: April 24 at 2 pm EST What parents of middle schoolers must know

Day 2: April 25 at 2 pm EST What parents of 9th graders must know

Day 3: April 26 at 2 pm EST What parents of 10th graders must know

Day 4: April 27 at 2 pm EST What parents of 11th graders must know

Day 5: April 28 at 2 pm EST What parents of college-bound teens must know now – Wrap up Party!


Please let me know if you’d like a reminder. Also, what questions do you have that I could answer during the event? You may post your questions or comments below.

3 Ways Parents Hurt College Chances Without Knowing It

Do you have a high school senior who is now applying to colleges? If so, I have exciting news to share with you so that you do not make the mistake of jeopardizing your teen’s college chances. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this behavior exhibited year after year with parents of seniors. I want to share it with you so that you are both informed and empowered in terms of how you support your teen through the college application process.

August is the time that seniors will be usually setting up their Common Application account. That’s the main portal or tool that they’ll use to have the ability to apply to hundreds of colleges. Ideally seniors will choose eight to ten colleges to apply to using the Common Application website.

One of the things I see is parents working with their first child to go through the college application process and they get a little bit overzealous in terms of helping. When this happens, I warn parents that it’s okay to help, but not do. There are generally three key mistakes I see parents making that jeopardizes their teen’s chances of admissions.

The first mistake parents make is using their teen’s Common Application password to log into their account. A few years ago, the mother of a client of mine was logging in to her son’s account and inadvertently submitted an application with her name on it. That’s embarrassing–and it’s difficult to undo! The Common Application now has accounts created for parents, so you can set up your own account. That way, you can see what the application questions are, how to fill out an application and get some insight without actually logging into your teen’s account.

The second mistake that I see is from parents that will write the application essays for their teens. I know some of you might be horrified by this thought, but it’s true. It happens every year. Unfortunately, that’s a critical way to hurt your teen’s college admissions chances. It’s highly likely that a college admissions officer will recognize the difference between the words a parent would use versus a teenager. An essay written by a parent won’t have the same authenticity that’s needed to be really compelling and stand out. Sometimes, even if you’re not fully writing it but instead trying to write about an experience or offering certain words to use, it will still be obvious. What I recommend is to let your teen invite you to read their application essay and just do that. As much as you can, restrain from commenting on it or suggesting changes. Read it, encourage them, and let them submit their best without you placing judgment on it.

The third and final mistake that I see parents making is having too many readers. I have seen some parents invite family members and other people that they know in the community to read their teens application essay. Just like too many cooks in the kitchen can be a disaster, having your teen respond to three or five different readers stresses them out more and makes the process that much more challenging for them.

To recap, the first key is to get your own Common Application account. The next is to not write your teen’s essays. Thirdly, limit the number of readers for your teen’s application essays. One or two, that should be enough so that it doesn’t confuse them, doesn’t undermine and discourage them in any way. The main thing that your teen needs through this process is confidence. They need assurance that it may be a tough season, but they will get through it and it will be a great experience for their future.