First, stop even thinking about what colleges she will attend. Everything now should be about doing well in high school for the sake of doing well in high school.
My daughter at 13 was a radically different person than she was at 17, when she graduated HS. Nothing ended up the way we thought it would when she was 13.
Graduating middle school, she was a dancer, and had a fairly good list of math and robotics awards (local and state level), those being her major ECs. Her GPA was 3.98.
She started high school, did not join any math or robotics clubs, focused on social issues (mostly LGBTQ issues and gun control), took a partial art track, was heavily into creative writing, kept dancing, did a internship at a neuroscience lab. She spent a year navel gazing, and her grades suffered somewhat. Her main awards were around her social action activity. Except for dance, she did not continue any EC which she started in middle school or earlier.
She is now at a great LAC on a full tuition scholarship which was the result of her her social action ECs, and she’s majoring in neuroscience, and plans to do her PhD. She is doing amazingly well, she is an amazing woman, and it is great when she comes home for vacations, even the 7 months of COVID.
Those four years though…
So forget about planning her classes and ECs, forget about some strategic plan and definitely forget about planning which college she will attend. Or plan in the knowledge that it won’t make much of a difference.
The years between 13 and 18 area crazy ride for the teens, and for parents they can be even crazier. Her brain is reorganizing itself, and all bets are off.
Your kid will disappoint you bitterly and make you more proud than you imagine. She will flip between extreme self-centeredness and radical generosity and caring. She will be mean and she will be extremely kind. She will act brilliantly, and behave so stupidly that you will wonder whether she has a brain at all. She will be extremely lazy, but also will have so much energy that you will be exhausted just looking at her
The most important thing you can do to help her academics and other activities is to try and keep her on track. Not “you need to do X for college”, but “do X because you will feel pride in yourself”. Don’t tell her “dance because colleges like seeing such activities”, tell her “dance, because it will make you feel good, and make you feel good about yourself”.
Aside: non-competitive dance, including the high school’s dance troupe, is a great way to engage in physical activity, as well as create great social connections. Not a fan of competitive dance.
Push her, but know when to ease off. Make sure that she knows that her race is her own, and she is not trying to beat anybody. So long as her grades are the best that she could achieve in that class, they excellent grades.
If she is slacking off and not doing anything, or if she is not keeping up with her school work, or not doing her job for her clubs, do push her to do so, but also keep you ear to the ground to see if these are typical teen laziness, or something else. Down time is good, but she should also try and engage in time management.
Motivations is easier when she is engaging in activities in which she is interested, and for which she has passion. This is often easier in high school, since she has choice in classes, and choice in activities.
Yes, there are teens who take extra classes, maintaining a 4.0, spend hours on ECs, and win multiple awards. Most kids aren’t like that, and trying to be like that would destroy most kids.
Keep an eye on her online activity. Privacy is good, but you should see what she is doing online, especially those things which she tries to hide. Most are relatively harmless (as in, not an immediate threat to her health and safety), but others aren’t. She is a teen and teens get into all sorts of messes, especially online. Make sure that you have access to her accounts, and that she is not hiding any. It can save her health or even her life. Make sure that you understand the technology she uses as well as or better than she does
When time comes to start looking at colleges, remember that admissions to college are not a prize for hard work and achievements, they are the stage in her journey after high school. The best way to select colleges is to see what her high school achievements and interests tell you and her. The best colleges for her will likely not be the highest ranked college which will accept her. So her high school choices and actions should not be part of a plan to be accepted to such a college. College choice should not determine high school, but rather, high school should determine college choice
When she looks at colleges, keep her from focusing on “dream” colleges. For any kid there are many colleges at which they can succeed and thrive. There isn’t “the One College” for anybody, so don’t let her obsess over any one college. That is a recipe for disappointment and bitterness.
Mostly make sure that she knows that you love her, no matter what, and that you will be on her side, no matter what.
Also, stock up on booze. Bottle and bottles of booze.