Thank you very much for considering us. It’s an honor to have made your short list of counselors. As it turns out, the earliest we begin working with students is in the month of August when their 9th grade year begins.
What to Do Between Now and Then:
Between now and then, the student should aim to amass new experiences that build a positive, outgoing mindset and curiosity. Ironically, the best thing psychologists recommend is for you to let a student be bored over summer (this article is a must read). They’ll get inventive. Then, once interests form organically, a student can join middle school clubs, if any are offered. Additionally, perhaps a student might become interested in a thematic summer camp. But, whatever you do, ensure your student is genuinely enthusiastic. Otherwise, don’t push them, let them be bored. Behind almost every underperforming student we work with is a parent who is driving the child towards a future whose benefits the child cannot see.
Our best students have been allowed to explore wherever their hearts take them, even if it’s video games. Experiences in gaming, modding, and leadership can be turned into creative applications of game theory, programming, and leadership in more serious fields later in high school. Students will become prolific thinkers as long as you let them choose their choices of medium. Whatever they choose to do, encourage them to lean into the intellectual aspects of the activity that reside under the surface. For example, is your student extremely socially driven? Encourage that student to think more intentionally about how to initiate things that serve the greater interest of the friend group. Those early experiences can be groomed into more polished applications of emotional intelligence and servitude leadership when the student reaches positions of power in high school.
We can more easily redirect an already inspired, positively obsessed, and enthusiastic young mind toward great things that will combine their intrinsic interests and work well for college applications.
For 9th grade course selection, I recommend opting into the most challenging courses the school makes available. Students can always downgrade to regular level courses in the first few weeks if overwhelmed. However, we can start counseling just before school starts to teach the student study strategies followed by valedictorians that’ll enable the student to positively manage the rigor of coursework and develop solid, proactive relationships with each teacher. Specifically, I recommend taking all of the core academic subjects: math, English, science, history, and foreign language, and taking the most rigorous classes offered in each of these subjects in 9th will open the door for more scholarships and admissions offers in 12th grade.
The school counselor can identify each advanced class accessible to the student and facilitate the course selection process so that our early input isn’t necessary beyond what I’ve shared above. Additionally, it’s better to be bolder with 9th grade and have the luxury to pull back in future years if the student opts for easier colleges. Even if the student stumbles a little in 9th grade, an academic stumble is better in 9th grade, following by an upward grade trend, than a stumble in later years. However, our counseling will greatly lower the chances that a stumble happens at all.