What College Readiness Looks Like

By Huntington Learning Center

There’s a term you’ve probably heard a lot before as a parent: college readiness. What does it mean? And how do you know if your child is on track for “college readiness” in school? Here are a few facts about what college readiness looks like as students progress through school:

Elementary schoolElementary school is the foundation for school success and an important time for parents to make sure their children are establishing good routines and habits. Here’s what college readiness means at this stage:

  • Students are aware of college and believe that it is a worthwhile goal and vital for their future.
  • Students are encouraged to make school a top priority in their lives, minimize absences, do homework and establish good study habits.
  • In the classroom, students embrace a positive attitude, listen well, work to earn good grades and recognize that these things lead to better grades.
  • Students explore college and careers through their school assignments.
  • Students meet or exceed grade-level standards for all subjects.

Middle schoolIn middle school, teachers have the goal of preparing students for high school. To do so, here’s what teachers are typically striving toward:

  • Students have good study, time management and organizational skills in place and use them to achieve school success.
  • Students know that college is important and have plans to attend, even if they aren’t sure what they will study one day.
  • Students understand that high school is more rigorous than middle school and are building the skills to take more challenging courses in high school.
  • In the classroom, students are engaging in higher-level thinking and working more independently outside of the classroom.
  • Students are able to link real-world skills to their classroom curriculum.
  • Students meet or exceed grade-level standards for all subjects.
  • Students set goals academic regularly and are comfortable working toward them.

High schoolHigh school is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to college prep. Achieving grade-level standards is obviously vital, but here is what it looks like to be college-ready in high school:

  • Students are independent and responsible about keeping track of homework and all responsibilities.
  • They are skilled at prioritizing and planning ahead on homework and studying.
  • They are adaptable and comfortable operating in new and uncomfortable situations.
  • Students are able to make arguments, supply evidence and support, and articulate their ideas and opinions clearly.
  • Students have strong academic habits, including studying efficiently, taking good notes, planning and prioritizing homework, and juggling multiple responsibilities.
  • Students have made or are making plans for the future, including college and a potential college major or career.

A college education is important, but the groundwork to be prepared to succeed in college starts from a young age. You don’t need to be touring college campuses and asking your fourth-grader what college majors are on his or her mind, but you should support your child in school, encourage him or her to work hard, make learning a priority and talk about the future. With this guide on hand, you know what it looks like to be on track for college readiness. Be the support system your child needs.


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