Parents, you may think it's early to start thinking about college when your child is just in 9th grade, but it's not! Check here to see some information on how you could be planning for college even now.

Your child's grades appear on official transcripts starting this year, so if you haven't already started doing so, it's time to take stock. If your child has particularly strong academic interests, encourage them, but don't lose focus on strengthening areas of weakness that can't be ignored, such as English or algebra.

Your child should also start exploring career goals so that courses can be chosen that will complement those goals and serve as good prerequisites for college - this is especially true for scientific and technical fields. Sit down with your teen and the school's course listings to sketch out a comprehensive academic program of all the classes your child should take in high school. Lay out preliminary plans for extracurricular activities as well, allowing flexibility for interests they may outgrow or new ones they may acquire. As you do this, allow your child's interests to shape the list!


Get involved
The initial weeks of high school can be a difficult adjustment, socially and academically. Keep an open dialogue about how classes are going. If your child is struggling, now's the time to get a handle on it. Similarly, you may want to talk to the school about placing your child in a more advanced class if the work seems too easy.

Help your child explore
As classes progress, encourage involvement in meaningful activities in and out of school. Allow your child to feel out what they're comfortable with and how much time they can dedicate without impacting schoolwork negatively.

Heap on the praise
Help your child begin keeping an activities record that lists participation in activities as well as accomplishments, awards, and leadership positions.


Provide support
Keep up regular conversations with your child about his or her academic progress. Grades should be up to par and course levels appropriate. If not, perhaps your child could use your help in establishing better study habits or creating a better study environment.

Be a motivator
Develop an improvement plan together if your child is struggling and remember that the best motivation is encouragement.

Remain open to change
One of the points of high school is for students to explore their interests. Determine if your child is enjoying what they're doing, and if any changes need to be made.

Think summer
You and your child should also start thinking about worthwhile summer plans such as a job, volunteer work, or traveling. Summer is a great time to begin exploring interests that tie in with college or career goals.


Look to the future
Together, review and evaluate the comprehensive academic program and activities record started earlier in the school year, make any necessary changes, and update accordingly.

Hit the books
As summer approaches, develop a summer reading list that will help with the academic transition to 10th grade, and finalize any summer plans that were in development.

See all of Peterson's College Planning Timelines.