You’ve made it through your first year of high school! As you begin thinking ahead to college, here’s a helpful guide for the fall of your sophomore year.
Make sure your fall schedule is finalized. Are you taking all of the required courses? Are you in the honors (or even AP) level classes you wanted? Does your sophomore year schedule show that you’re challenging yourself? If you think you’re missing an important class, or want to see if you can get into one more honors course, make an appointment with your counselor or adviser as soon as you can.
Find out when (and if) your school will be administering the PSAT or PLAN. The more standardized testing practice you get early in high school, the more comfortable you will feel taking these tests as a junior or senior. Your PSAT and PLAN results can help identify areas of weakness in your testing, as well. Your PSAT score report, for instance, includes not only your overall score, but also the individual breakdown of specific skills and how well you tested in each. If you consistently missed questions about Organization and Ideas, for instance, you’ll be able to go to the College Board to learn more about that skill, and to drill questions in that area.
Update your resume. Write down all of your activities from freshman year, and what you did over the summer, including any jobs or significant family responsibilities. Next to each activity write a one line description, and another line highlighting any titles, positions, or specific achievements. Type this up and keep it somewhere you’ll remember. Consider which activities you have enjoyed so far or could result in a leadership position, and which you can leave behind. And if your involvement has sparked a new interest, research ways to explore it further.
Maintain your academic performance. No matter what your freshman year grades were, you can have an amazing sophomore year. Of course, colleges like to see strong grades in challenging courses throughout high school. But even if you got off to a rocky start, bringing your grades up this year will show that you are committed to improving, and your transcript will have an upward grade trend, which colleges will acknowledge. What you want to avoid, no matter how strong your freshman year was, is a dip in your grades sophomore year. Start out strong sophomore year, and keep the momentum going!
Don’t start thinking about specific colleges just yet. It’s still too early in high school to know what could be a good fit for you. If you really want to start learning about colleges this year, read up on the differences between liberal arts colleges, research universities, and public and private colleges. That way, when you do start researching colleges in earnest, you will already have a sense of the significant differences between them.