While those from older generations might not have started planning for college and careers until high school, Pickerington Local School District officials said they hope to encourage earlier preparations.

While those from older generations might not have started planning for college and careers until high school, Pickerington Local School District officials said they hope to encourage earlier preparations.

With that in mind, the district once again is hosting a College and Career Family Night for junior high and middle school students.

This year's event is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 25 at Lakeview Junior High School.

"This is the second year that we have focused just at the middle (and) junior high levels," said Eileen McGarvey, a school counselor at Ridgeview STEM Junior High School.

"For the 2012-13 and 2013-14 years we organized a K-12 event and in 2011-12 we began the event only at Ridgeview.

"The first year was so well received that we were encouraged to expand it districtwide."

This year, there will be representatives on hand from a community college, public university and a private university to discuss the pros and cons of each of their programs.

There also will be experts available to discuss everything from financial planning for college, to college preparatory and college-credit classes that can be taken in junior high school and high school.

Keynote speaker Linda Knicely, a consultant with the Fairfield County Educational Service Center and Battelle for Kids, will discuss "Reimagining Readiness," focusing on the importance of grit, resilience, growth mindset and soft skills in children.

"The sessions at College and Career Family Night are designed to help build the foundation for families to start seriously thinking about their children's college and careers," said Kris Owen, school counselor at Ridgeview.

McGarvey said school district officials and other representatives will discuss how to prepare for college-entrance exams, how to select a college and various activities and classes that set up students for success at college and in a number of different careers.

"We know how important it is for students to start thinking about their plans beyond school at an earlier age," McGarvey said. "So many of our parents remarked that they had high school students and they wished that they had the information earlier.

"Starting the conversation in the intermediate grades allows our students to look at all options and develop a six-year plan so that they are not shut out of opportunities because of lack of knowledge."

College and Career Family Night is free and open to all junior high and middle school students in the district.

As extra incentive to attend, pizza will be provided beginning at 5 p.m.

Given that the district wants to serve as many students and parents as possible, they are asking those who plan to attend to register online at pickerington.k12.oh.us.

More information about individual sessions to be hosted that evening also is available on the district website.

"Although the future may seem far off, it is important to start the conversation at a young age," McGarvey said. "There are countless paths for our students to take, but success relies on long-term thinking and action plans.

"No matter what decision a student makes for their future, they need to know that it will take hard work and resilience to achieve it. There are many opportunities open to students if they start early and work hard."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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