If you’re a high school sophomore, (or even a freshman), it’s not too early to start your college planning. Now is an excellent time to get started on your college path. Careful planning and preparation can improve your credentials and increase your college admissions options. It’s not too early to explore colleges, college majors, or career goals.
The College Planning Tasks Sophomores Should Be Focusing on Spring and Summer
Here are some things you can do as a sophomore, to help make this year and the next two years more successful and less stressful.
Focus on the Academics
A solid academic record with a challenging curriculum and strong grades is an essential admissions factor for many colleges. A rigorous class schedule shows that you are comfortable doing hard work. Good grades and a strong academic record can lead to merit scholarships. There is no sense in taking all killer courses if you’re not able to do well in them. Be sure to keep your classes at a level within your abilities.
Continue taking a foreign language for at a minimum of 3 years, if appropriate, and try to take classes in English composition and literature to hone your reading and writing skills.
Study for PSAT/ SAT/ AP Tests
If your school allows sophomores to take a practice PSAT, do it. Taking the PSAT as a sophomore will give you a sense of what to expect on these exams. These tools provide personalized feedback based on your actual test results. Summer after sophomore year is a great time to start studying for the SATs via self-guided or online classes. You can do this on your own via Kahn Academy or act.org. Having some prior practice experience really helps many students. Sample tests also help you determine what you need to work harder on, as well. Learning is always best done over time, rather than relying on last-minute cramming. You probably have more time now than you will in your junior or senior year, so hit those books or online classes right now!
Read, Read, Read
Read everything you can! Reading is an important factor for doing well on the verbal portions of the SAT and the ACTs. Improving your reading skills now can help you perform better on college entrance exams, prepare you for success in college and in life. Read challenging articles, books, and editorials. Sign up for “Word/Article/SAT Question of the Day” apps. Our students say that those apps make the process fun and even painless!
10th grade is the time to get involved in extracurricular activities and community service. Don’t join every club or sport out there. Most colleges prefer to see deep involvement in fewer activities. Find activities that interest you and get involved in a meaningful way.
Evidence of leadership and meaningful engagement is vital to your own personal growth, and it’s also a factor for colleges when they review your resume. Consider an internship or part-time employment in an area that interests you. But remember to focus on your school work and on your grades. Don’t let them suffer.
College Admissions Organizational Skills
Set up an email account to use only for your college admissions journey. University presentations, college fairs, scholarships, and college admissions often ask for an email address. Gmail is a good and free choice. Avoid using silly or offensive email names. Record your passwords with LastPass or a similar password service. It’s a good idea to start a “College Folder” for notes and other information. Begin putting test scores, transcripts, college information, high school awards, honors, community service hours, etc. in the folder. Getting all this information together later is time-consuming, so doing it as you go is smart and efficient.
Virtual College Visits
We recommend unigo.com and colleges.niche.com to gain insight from current students at each school. You should also watch virtual tours on YouTube, Campusreel, or Campustours. Our website has college tour posts with photos and information profiling many colleges and universities we’ve personally visited. Click here to see our college visit profiles.
Your Guidance Counselor
Schedule a meeting with them to make sure you are on the right track to meet all of your graduation requirements and find out if/how your school uses Naviance, or a similar type of platform that the high school uses for college.
Meet with a College Counselor/Advisor
At Signature College Counseling, we meet in person or via Zoom with our high school freshmen and sophomores twice per year, or more frequently if needed. During these sessions, we provide guidance on course selection, assessment and documenting of extracurricular activities and compilation of the student’s resume, and review transcript to date and expectations. We also provide year-by-year suggested direction, responsibilities, and activities. Towards the second half of sophomore year we begin work on your college search, the foundation of your journey, so we can be proactive. Our students and their parents tell us that starting the college planning process early helps them know what they need to do and when it needs to be done. This alleviates stress and inevitable family conflicts. Contact us for more information about our services.
Sophomore Year of High School College Planning: Spring/Summer Checklist
Ok, Sophomore (and Freshmen)… NOW is GO-time to lay a solid foundation to your own college choice path. As of this writing, college and universities are still on lockdown from COVOID 19, so your visiting abilities are nixed. But there are so many online tools you can use to get started right now, from the comfort of your home.
Let us know if Signature College Counseling can help you towards an amazing and exciting college planning path!
Checklist: Sophomores: Where are We Now?
• Your initial college list has already been developed
• Do online research on your choice colleges. Weed out those that don’t make the cut
• Plan your college visits in the Spring and into the summer
• Complete the initial draft of your resume
• Plan/register to take PSATs in the fall
• Plan for next years’ classes. Continue with course rigor that is appropriate for your skills.
• Create a college folder to store important college-related documents
• Create an email account exclusively for your college planning
• Meet with Guidance Counselor and College Counselor/Advisor