Career Planning Checklist: Middle School

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Career Planning Checklist: Middle School

Here are a few things you can do as early as middle school to get started on a successful path to your future career. Don't worry if you don't yet know what that career is!

Be a good student and work hard to get good grades.

You may wonder how your grades in middle school can affect your future career path. Believe it or not, your grades count a lot. Grades are the only way colleges, employers, and others in positions of authority can objectively measure your performance.

Middle school is the perfect time to identify what kind of student you are and where there's room for improvement. You may even want to talk to your teachers about ways you can better your grades. If you wait until high school, it will be too late.

There is simply no downside to getting good grades.

Develop good study habits.

Not only do good study habits lead to good grades, they provide the foundation for a lifetime of learning. After all, learning doesn't stop when you finish high school or college…

A good way to improve your study habits is to figure out how you learn best. For example, if you're a visual learner, flash cards may help you study more effectively. And if you're an auditory learner, it may help you to read your assignments out loud. Knowing how you learn will make it easier for you to absorb new information.

Good study habits will benefit you long after your school years end.

Do your homework.

Homework may seem like a hassle, especially when you've got so many other things on your plate, like soccer practice and marching band. But doing homework is part of your job as a student.

Homework is a great way to show that you can get things done without supervision. (When you're part of the working world, many work-related responsibilities will seem no different from homework.) So get in to the habit of doing your homework and finishing it on time.

Homework is practice.

Read books, magazines, and online publications for fun.

Don't limit learning to just your schoolwork. Reading in your free time, just for fun, will help you increase your vocabulary, reading comprehension, and reading speed.

Reading for fun also allows you to study topics that interest you but may not be taught in the classroom—maybe skateboarding or gaming. Do some research on your own and stay up to date on what's going on in that field. You never know when a hobby may turn into something more.

The more interests you have, the more opportunities you have.

Get involved in extracurricular activities.

When admissions counselors or employers review your application, your extracurricular activities—sports, music, clubs—give them a glimpse into your character. That's because extracurricular activities require skills you won't necessarily learn in class: teamwork, leadership, responsibility.

Such real-world skills contribute to the strength of your character. And the stronger your character, the more attractive you are as a potential candidate.

Extracurricular activities can help you strengthen your character.

Identify several career areas that may interest you.

Middle school is not too early to begin looking at some careers that may appeal to you. The earlier you can narrow down the field, the more time you have to explore your options and "try them on for size."

Don't know where to begin? First, think of some things you enjoy doing and then use our interactive tool to find careers that match your skills.

It is never too early to explore some career options.