Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,Our son will be starting eighth grade this fall. He is an excellent student, and we want him to continue to do well so he can apply to a top college. When should we start thinking about hiring a consultant or tutor to help make sure he stays at the top of his class?
I applaud you for your interest in your son’s future at such an early stage because the sooner you have an expert evaluate your son’s academic abilities, the better. A number of companies provide tutoring services and suggest the best way to prepare for colleges.
Just as we are all aware of the value of preschool, where a child learns at an early age how to adapt socially and how to follow instructions from someone other than their parents, this is an important transition for your son.
Beginning in eighth grade, students should start identifying and exploring interest areas through reading, research and other activities. Doing this will give your son an idea of what he is passionate about and what clubs or activities at his high school will meet those interests. He will know what extracurriculars to pursue as soon as soon he enters ninth grade and will give him more time to explore what paths he wishes to explore.
Some well-known tutoring companies have found their diagnostic evaluations helpful in spotting potential academic flaws. These organizations also help students develop good study habits and testing skills. You often have read in this column about the importance of earning top grades as a high school freshman. The transition from middle school to high school demands discipline and focus. Grades will be the most important element that colleges consider when making admission decisions. You cannot average out a poor freshman year, even if you do well as a sophomore and junior.
By starting simple college preparation in eighth grade, students are poised to have a strong start to their high school careers — something that can set them apart from other applicants when it comes time for colleges to decide who to admit.
Beginning in eighth grade it is important to help students learn how to manage their study schedules, homework deadlines, and other academic requirements. Staying organized is key and developing good study habits will help your son prepare for the rigors of a high school course load.
I tutor eighth-graders for the SSAT/ISEE/PSAT and the SAT. Depending on the quality of school, these tests are critical, in some cases a requirement for admission. I also teach a writing program for these students that focuses on expository writing and essays, including fiction and nonfiction. This training helps them to score well on the writing portion of the SAT. By the time these young clients reach high school, they have increased their critical reading and writing skills, and are well ahead of their classmates. In summary, it is never too early to hone a child’s learning skills. Admissions competition at top colleges is growing tougher each year, and anything you can do to increase the odds of academic success for your son is in his best interests.
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