I often get anguished calls from parents who are trying to decide whether to reclassify their student. It can happen at any point, but often seems to come to a head in the 8th or 9th grade year. Here are the common concerns:
- The student is often, but not always, a boy (and just so you know, young men mature much more slowly than young women).
- They are still unsure of themselves or where they are headed.
- They often still waste time in the activities of childhood – playing games, etc.
- They are often poor managers of time.
- They have gotten behind in key subjects like math and science.
- They struggle with learning differences or disabilities.
- Sometimes, they have just begun to “get it” academically and the parent realizes there aren’t enough years left in high school to finish the job.
- Their extracurricular profile is really lacking and they just need some extra time to shore things up in order to be competitive.
Whatever the reason, the parent wonders if an extra year would be helpful. But then, doubts set in. Will colleges think there are problems if they enter at an older age? Is a gap year better than reclassifying? Will it mess up standardized testing? What will the grandparents say? How will other students react? How will your child see himself or herself?
Reclassification is a Great Idea!
I am happy to let you know that reclassification is a great idea! It gives the extra breathing room needed to allow a child to mature, to get caught up, or to figure things out. I recommend reclassifying in junior high if possible as there is less stigma in the student’s mind, but I never hesitate to do it at any point in the process. A gap year can be useful for this (and I’ve recommended it), but reclassifying a student earlier is easier.
It Does Not Affect Standardized Testing
The age of your student does not matter when they take standardized tests, even the PSAT taken in the junior year (which is the gateway into the National Merit Competition). CollegeBoard accepts the student’s own classification. If they are a little older than most juniors, CollegeBoard doesn’t care and neither does the National Merit Corporation.
While I always try to honor grandparents and their opinions, it is more important that your student have time to mature and reach their potential. Be respectful, but firm. You are the parent and you must protect your child. I have found that other students get used to the idea of suddenly not being in the same class and let it go. Most kids also accept the fact that life will be easier if they wait an extra year. While my son got a little frustrated when his friends went to college a year before he did, he was very grateful once he started because he realized he was more mature and struggled less than many of his classmates.
Increase Chances of Success
By giving your child time now, you increase her chances of success later. A better academic record and stellar extracurriculars lead to better college choices and scholarship opportunities. Thus, reclassification can positively affect the college application process. Colleges want mature students who will make the most of their college experience. They know that a more mature student makes better decisions and uses time in college wisely. They want to fill their freshman classes with those who will be successful and graduate.
Look Who’s Talking!
“(My son) ended up with merit scholarship offers totaling over $700,000!! I want to thank you again for all your encouragement and practical advice over the years. God certainly worked through you to help us find a way to challenge my son while keeping him at home for as long as possible. You have been my lifeline – you’ll never know how much it has meant to me to be connected with someone who “gets it”, who understands the value for God’s kingdom in training our children in excellence and preparing them for His higher calling.” ~ Vickie, MI
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