Something magical happens when a middle schooler takes a college study skills class. I’ve seen it a thousand times.
Oh, I know that on the surface it would seem to make more sense to give kids college study skills training right before they’re actually going to need it . . . .
* Right before starting a “dual enrollment” college class in high school
* Right before moving into dorms freshman year
* Right after a disastrous semester where the grades were C’s and D’s and a lot of tuition money was wasted
Those are all good times to take a college study skills class. But 6th or 7th grade? That’s absolutely magical.
Here are 7 reasons why MIDDLE SCHOOL is the best time for your kid to take a college study skills class:
1. A class like this shapes the way the student sees herself and her future.
Middle schoolers tend to feel immensely flattered that someone — a parent, a teacher, or a middle school youth pastor — sees them as so intellectually capable that the topic of college is coming up already.
Oh, every student will object initially when an adult first brings up the idea of a class like this of course — but once the student knows that attending is not negotiable, even a “low-to-average” achieving middle school student will secretly start to feel an internal glow of pride about it.
When middle school students attend a college study skills class, they begin to feel a subtle but distinct shift in how they view themselves and their future life. They start to see this line item being written into the overarching plan for their lives: “I’m going to college!”
2. Middle school students eagerly devour this material.
After just about five minutes in my class, students are sitting straight up on the edges of their chairs, ears and eyes wide open.
The minute I finish explaining the importance of taking notes with pen and paper and not with computers, these students are drawing vertical lines down the margins of their papers and taking page after page of detailed notes. When I ask to see the notes they’ve taken at the end of the class and I marvel and exclaim over them, they swell up with pride. When I explain exactly how to review the notes later to lock in the concepts in as little time as possible, they write down every word I say.
(One 8th grade girl last year walked out of my study skills class and told her mom: “Sorry, mom — I can’t go get ice cream with you now. I’m doing a a systematic review method and I have to review these notes I just took.” And I wasn’t even giving her a grade for learning this material!)
I find that middle school students are especially eager to listen, eager to take notes, eager to review, and eager to implement my strategies after they’ve learned them. This presents an opportunity that is just too valuable for us to overlook.
Parents, if your kids balk at coming to this class when you first bring it up — pay them to attend if that’s what it takes. You’ll recoup the investment 100 times over later.
3. Every student loves it when I say these words:
“Some of you here today have never, ever worked up to your ability level in school. Some of you are the last people your teachers would ever think would go to college. Well let me tell you something: some of you sitting here today are going to surprise everyone. You know why? Because it’s not brains or genetic ability that make you good at college. It’s strategy and organization. Pure and simple. And anyone can learn that.”
4. Brain development research tells us that middle school is the perfect time for us to be talking about these things.
Middle schoolers’ brains are growing at an explosive rate — faster than at any time since infancy. Neural pathways are being pruned and strengthened, and so any experience they have during these years is likely to stick with them — in technicolor — for years and years afterward. Often for a lifetime. I want it to be during these years that they are first reached with the message of what it takes to succeed in college. If we are able to do this, the college success strategies we give them will be locked in in ways they will not be if we wait until just before or during college.
5. Students who learn college study skills early on do better in high school.
These students tend to get better grades in high school, they take and pass more CLEP and DSST tests, they succeed at higher levels in dual enrollment courses in 10th, 11th and 12th grades, and they tend to apply for and win more college scholarships. (My experience tells me that “getting college scholarships” is a huge priority for parents. To see my extensive post on applying for and winning college scholarships starting in middle school, click here.)
6. Students who take this path will walk onto their college campus with a 6-year track record of organizing their academics in ways that actually work.
When these students hear college friends talking about ridiculously ineffective college strategies like keeping track of due dates in their heads, or waiting until the last minute and cramming for exams, they’ll look at those friends like they’re completely out of their minds.
7. Students who take this class tend feel greatly relieved of fear and pressure.
One bright, capable 8th grade boy recently wrote on my course evaluation for this class: “This class has helped take away a lot of my fears about college.”
How much is that worth to a parent?
Would you like me to teach this 2-hour class for your students at your location?
You can bring me in as a speaker for an event anywhere in the world by contacting my assistant, Natalie, at +1-612-424-2233 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE STRATEGIC COLLEGE STUDENT
How to Get Straight A’s in College While Studying LESS Than Most Other People
Highly recommended for middle school students, but high school students, college students, and parents are also welcome to attend.
This is one of my two most popular classes. To see what others are saying about this class, click here.
Class description: So what if you’re only in middle school – your brain is developing faster now than at any time since infancy! This is the perfect time for you to learn how top-performing students manage their time so that they can succeed brilliantly in college while studying LESS than most other people.
Learn the advanced studying, test-taking, and paper-writing strategies that top students use to succeed at the most prestigious colleges in the country while still having plenty of time left over for leadership, interning, and having more fun than they ever thought possible.
Leave at the end armed with a systematic review method developed at Carnegie Mellon University that can completely eliminate the need to ever cram for exams. This class will help you to maximize your potential in high school and in college, give you more time to relax, and help you to become a top contender both for scholarships, and for career or grad school success after college.
Instructor Jeannie Burlowski is the author of the book FLY: The 6 Things You Absolutely Must Do to Be Brilliant in College and Get a Job You Love Afterward (due out in 2016).
Dates and times for this class are listed in my free email newsletter. You can subscribe to it now using the form on this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.
How old were you when you took your first college study skills class? Do you think you could have benefitted from taking it sooner? How so? Comment below.
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie Burlowski is a full-time consultant, author, and conference speaker. She helps parents set their kids up to graduate college debt free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward is due out in 2016. Follow Jeannie on Twitter @JBurlowski.