Dr. Marcia Cantarella is author of “I Can Finish College,” and former dean and vice president of student affairs of several prestigious colleges. In her Huffington post, “College as the Dress Rehearsal for Your Career,” she states:
“Each phase has its purpose in moving one along a developmental path. While our brains are not fully formed even in late adolescence, each stage sets you up for the next and so college is the dress rehearsal for the real world represented by your work life. Everything you do while in college will set you up for success or failure in your career.”
So if college is the dress rehearsal for life, then high school is the stage where you begin reading your lines and finding your part in the play of life.
This is the fifth installment of my series Six Conversations to Have with Your Teen Starting High School. As discussed in my previous post, Teen Social Media Talk: Clean Broadcasting is a LONG Term Option, you must monitor your kids’ social media and texting. Now let’s turn our focus and have a talk about their class selections and GPA.
The first nine years of school have been nothing more than prep work for their high school GPA. Remember colleges will look at all four years of grades and that includes their 9th grade year. In addition to grades, now is the time to start taking the right classes for college. Here are some tips to consider.
1. Stay Involved in Course Choices. You students may be doing great in school, but don’t tune out, stay involved on what they are taking and studying. “Office Aid” may sound appealing to a teen, but “AP History” may give them college credit and save you thousands of dollars in college costs later. I am somewhat disappointed in parents that would jump through hoops to get their children in the best and most advanced preschools ten years prior, only to find these same parents unable to tell me what classes their 10th grader are enrolled in. If there is ever a time for parental guidance and road mapping, it is now. Don’t expect the overloaded counselor who is responsible for many students to give any personal attention to your child’s schedule without your prompting.
2. Investigate Your School Offerings for College Prep. My kids’ public school district currently offers Advance Placement, Pre-IB, International Baccalaureate, International Business Initiative, Automotive Technology & Collision, Culinary Arts, etc. The time to know about these program is WAY before your child enters high school. Some of these programs let them finish high school with up to 25 college credits. Hello! That’s amazing! Our schools also offer ACT and SAT testing to 9th graders, summer class offerings to lighten or broaden their high school career, but only if parents sign them up. Most of what I listed above is not readily known to parents in my district. Don’t be these parents, investigate options available to your kids.
3. Monitor, Facilitate, & Encourage Good Study Habits. I am not asking you to be the helicopter parent, but I am asking you to know how your children study and learn. Their ability to learn and manage time will be the single greatest factor for college and life success. Can they breakdown a two week project into daily tasks? Can they get it done without waiting to the last minute? How are their test taking skills? Are they turning their completed work in on time? Again let’s consider Dr. Cantarella advice. She is talking about college but it applies to high school as well.
“Learning how to manage your time well is a skill you will have to carry until retirement at the very least. Add a family to your career plan and you have got to have a plan for managing your life. If you have practiced juggling things while in college it will not be as hard when there is a paycheck attached and a toddler at your hip. Organizing your work, adhering to deadlines, and setting priorities allow you to keep the high GPA while directing a play, being a member of a band, and keeping a relationship alive.”
4. Encourage Your Kids to Focus on Good Grades. This sounds like a given, but it is really not. My teenage daughter left to her own devices would take no honors classes and would coast by with mostly Cs. Grades are not her innate focus or concern. However with a little encouragement and regular monitoring, she is making 6 As and a B, while taking 5 advanced placement courses, athletics and band. Kids need to be taught why the GPA which begins this year is of so much importance.
So many parents tell me, “I just want Johnny to explore his options and have fun.” I agree to a point, but I also know sitting down and having the GPA, class selection and good grade talk, gives him a lifetime of BETTER options.
What are your thoughts on GPA? How much direction do you give your kids on high school class selection?
Fred Campos is father to three and primary custodian to his daughter Caitlyn from a previous relationship. Image courtesy of Brian King.
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