College Awareness Activities for Middle School Students

Instructor: Katherine Garner

Katie teaches middle school English/Language Arts and has a master's degree in Secondary English Education

Middle school students are a great age to start participating in college awareness activities. In this lesson, you will find suggestions for activities that include questionnaires, guest speakers, and taking field trips.

Why Promote College Awareness to Middle Schoolers?

Middle school students may seem young, but they have arrived at the age where they're beginning to understand their strengths, interests, and the kind of future they would like. Given this, it's certainly not too early to start promoting college awareness.

Though students may choose satisfying and successful life paths that don't include college, it's still critical to introduce the idea of college and the opportunities that attending college can bring--especially for students whose families didn't attend college and/or who believe they can't afford it. It's a school's responsibility to provide information about college and the college application process so that if a student chooses not to attend college, it is truly the student's choice. Students shouldn't skip college because they incorrectly believe they can't afford it or don't belong there.

There are many activities for middle school students that promote college awareness. These activities can encourage students to begin thinking about their futures long before they choose the high school courses required for entering college. Some activities can be easily done during the school day. Others--field trips--require more time and planning.


One activity that middle schoolers enjoy that doesn't take a lot of time out of the school day is to have them complete questionnaires. There are many different kinds of questionnaires online that can help students learn more about their own interests, personality type, and skills. This information may help them narrow down the types of colleges and careers in which they may be interested.

From there, you could have your students do research or writing activities based on the results of the questionnaires. For example, if the results tell a student that his or her personality seems to be well-suited to careers such as teaching, the student could research the type of education required for a teaching career and what colleges and universities have good programs in the education field.

Guest Speakers

Another great resource for college-awareness activities are teachers themselves (maybe you!). They have all presumably attended college and many hold multiple degrees, sometimes even in fields outside of education. Middle schools can encourage teachers to share their college experiences and let their students ask questions.

Your school could also invite guest speakers, such as high school guidance counselors, recruiters from local colleges, and former students who have attended college, to come speak about their experiences and the process of applying for college.

Field Trips

While the above activities are great for promoting college awareness in middle schoolers, not much can match the experience of taking a campus tour. If your school is willing, organizing a field trip to a local or not-so-local college or university would be an invaluable experience for students.

It's a great idea to visit local colleges that many students in your area attend. It would be excellent if a former student from your middle school or town currently attending that college could lead a tour. Students may make an even stronger connection to the possibility of college if someone from their own town or school chose the college route. Students could visit dorm rooms, libraries, classrooms, a stadium or gym where the school's athletic teams compete, eat lunch in a dining hall, and maybe even visit a bookstore where they can buy college gear. The tour should ensure that students get an accurate and balanced picture of the hard work, fun, and freedom that comes with attending college.

Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina
Library at center of University of North Carolina

Students who have the chance to visit multiple college campuses before applying are likely to be more motivated and better able to discern what kind of college campus will be the best environment for them. Again, many students whose families have not been to college may not get the experience of campus tours unless they happen through school. Middle school is certainly not too young--in fact, it is probably the perfect time--to start planting these seeds of possibility in all students.

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