The sophomore year can be a little tricky for high school students. There is less excitement about this school year, as compared to their freshman year, when they were new to high school. Also, exploring and talking about post-secondary options isn't usually a focus yet. So, during the sophomore year, especially during the first semester, most sophomores have less pressure about college compared to those in their junior year. However, this IS the year that families should begin to think more about the college search process. Here are some steps that students can be taking during this invisible year:
1. TAKE THE PSAT FOR PRACTICE
All high school juniors will be taking the PSAT in October and it can open up some scholarship opportunities. Some schools offer the opportunity for sophomores to take it as well. So, students should use this opportunity to take it as a practice test to see what their testing benchmark is. But often, they don’t offer it to all of them and only allow sophomores to take it if they sign up in advance. Don’t miss the chance to sign up.
2. PARTICIPATE IN EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
This is pretty self-explanatory. But, if your child still hasn’t found a club, activity, or sport (in school our out of school) that they enjoy, encourage them not to give up trying. Or encourage them to find a part-time job or a regular babysitting gig. Any of those will enhance their college application.
3. SCHEDULE WISELY
Often, junior year is the first time students do not have a tightly prescribed schedule and so sophomores get to make many choices when it’s time to schedule for the next school year. They should consider taking electives in areas that may be of interest for a potential college major. And importantly, they should choose challenging courses that continue to demonstrate academic rigor. No, they do not all need to be AP classes! But pay attention, because high school graduation requirements don’t always align with college admissions requirements.
4. START EXPLORING CAREER OPTIONS
Now is the time to start exploring careers. By doing so, your student will get a good idea how to start preparing for the career of their dreams, whether it's going to college or otherwise. If your student is going to college, now is the time for them to start linking career interests with colleges.
5. GET A BASELINE ACT AND SAT SCORE
Taking both the SAT and the ACT toward the end of this year will provide your student with important information. They’ll learn which test they prefer and should focus on studying for in their junior year. It can also give you an idea of which colleges they should be targeting, or whether they may prefer to apply to colleges that are test-optional. Accomplishing the five steps above will put your student in a great position as they head into their high school junior year.
Getting a head start during the sophomore year will remove some of the stress typically associated with that academically challenging junior year.
Need help with getting prepared as a sophomore? Are you ready for your junior year? The Freedom of Choice School Counselor can help! Check out our Sophomore Academic Planning Packages here. We can help plan the sophomore year and be prepared for the next!