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By Elizabeth LaScala

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About this blog: I post articles to offer timely and substantive college admission guidance on important topics and issues. Originally from New York, I have a B.S. from Hunter College in NYC and advanced professional degrees from the University of...  (More)

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Is It Too Early to Prepare for College?

Uploaded: Jun 17, 2013
A San Ramon Reader asks Dr. LaScala:

Are there advantages to starting college advising before beginning high school? My son is quite focused and driven; we aren't pushing him, but we do want to support his enthusiasm and ambition.

San Ramon

Dear Ellen in San Ramon,

An advisor can help create a strong academic path for your student by helping him to select appropriate classes that build on his interests and by providing guidance to explore new activities, identify passions and develop leadership in academic and extracurricular areas. A particular benefit of early advising is that it can help younger students find meaningful summer activities that may support future goals. The advisor you select should have a process in place that is geared to students who are beginning their high school years and is appropriate for a student who has just finished middle school. A little effort at this time can have significant benefits later on.

I meet with my younger students once or twice in middle school and then once per semester during 9th and 10th grades. We take a look at grades, prepare and revise the academic schedule, discuss a standardized testing schedule, explore extracurricular activities, and help students research and plan their summers. The curriculum planning is really important because it sets the pace for taking the prerequisites required to take advanced level courses starting in the 10th and/or in 11th grades, depending on what the high school offers. The ideal time to plan for high school coursework is before the student starts 9th grade. Parents often don't realize this until it is too late and the course schedule is fixed.

Planning summers is important as well. Summer days are free of high school classes and homework; time is available for students to learn more about themselves and their interests and passions. For example, California has some wonderful summer programs for students with interest for science, technology or mathematics (STEM) majors. Students in 9th and 10th grades can begin to explore their interests and related college majors in more informal ways. Starting earlier can make the whole process less stressful and more fun and rewarding.

Another benefit to an early start is helping to support the transition to high school by teaching time management and organizational skills; also relevant is the possibility of a more timely diagnosis and intervention for learning or behavioral challenges. Early advising can be a big advantage for students and families because they have a sounding board and guidance all the way through high school. Often these students are very successful in the college admission process.

Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She develops best match college lists, offers personalized interview and essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize merit and financial aid awards. Visit; Call (925) 891-4491 or email at
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