What should my high school sophomore do to begin preparing for college?
My last piece on freshman year college prep was pretty simple. A theme surrounding “just execute” provided a very simplistic view of the year and the impact it will have on your college application. Establishing a good GPA was key for your freshman year as it set the foundation for the rest of your high school tenure. Frankly, freshman year is so far in the rear view mirror when colleges analyze your resume that it is hard to tell you to do much more.
When looking at the end of the summer as your student nears the beginning of their sophomore year of high school, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a college visit. Visiting a campus will provide a little forethought for both your student and your wallet. Getting an understanding of the types of colleges, the costs, the majors and offerings will get both you and your student thinking. It may be difficult to have a real conversation about things your student considers career-wise as it may be in constant flux, but early exposure to this upcoming decision will make the process a little easier.
On that note, it may also be time, as a parent, to really figure out what type of person your student is. There are plenty of personality tests available but a couple of our favorites are: Truity and Blayz
These are relatively quick tests that can help in narrowing down the career or degree field for your student. This also gives you a heads up as to some potential paths you can point them towards as they mature.
When looking towards the fall and the school year, remember our advice for you during your freshman year: to start playing the game. We discussed the need to begin understanding your high school, the playing field for teachers, available courses, and then map out the best path for each of your courses. Sophomore year is the time to start enacting that plan and, just like freshman year, it counts for 33% of your overall GPA as well. As a reminder, you apply to college during the first semester of senior year, so your grades from your senior year won’t affect what schools see when you apply.
Side note –This does not mean that your senior year does not matter. Schools regularly want to see your senior year transcript after admitting you or after you apply if you are on the cusp.
If you were a diligent freshman, then your sophomore year should be primed and ready to go. You identified your areas of strength, decided to ramp up the course load a bit with some AP or IB courses, and are refining your extra-curricular activities. A student should also look at developing a foreign language and should certainly look into providing volunteer hours at an organization that means something to them.
We will definitely have more literature coming out on this topic soon enough but, it still needs to be addressed since we have mixed feelings about the test. The PSAT is available during sophomore year and, if you have an exceptional student, studying for it can increase the potential for your student to do well and earn some scholarships. On the other hand, we have a hard time putting any weight behind this exam. It is a great indicator for where you currently stand and is a good predictor for future SAT results but, outside of that, it may simply not be worth the stress. However, like we stated before, literature will be available on our other blog categories shortly!
Spring Sophomore Year
Keep executing. By now you should have a pretty good handle on your extra-curricular activities and how your time will be focused for the remainder of high school. Once again, it is time to build the following year’s schedule by mapping out courses, increasing the difficulty a bit to show continued progress, and navigating the proper classrooms.
When looking towards college, it is probably another good time to start planning another college visit. It is definitely time to start building a college list. Have your student to put 5-10 colleges on paper and then ask them, “Why that school?” Ensure they take into account their interests, proximity to home, school focus, costs, etc. Our E-book, which can be found for FREE on our home page, has a pretty good discussion on this topic.
Finally, once your student has made his or her list, have them contact the colleges and request more information. Remember that your narrative when applying goes a lot further when you have demonstrated deep interest in particular schools!
Before we provide a nice little summation list, don’t forget to get our e-book which details the entire college application process helping guide you through the barrage of material on the net.
We All Love Lists! Summation of the article:
- Visit a college or two in the summer before fall of your sophomore year.
- Know that sophomore year counts for 33% of the GPA that colleges see.
- Take some AP or IB courses.
- PSAT – Study if you’re a high performer. If not, use it as a measuring stick.
- Identify another school visit in the spring.
- Begin building a college list and request more information.
- Map out junior year coursework and take into account teachers and classes.
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