Sophomore year may seem like the calm before the storm that is your junior and senior years. College applications and SAT/ACT results may look as though they are firm elements of your future, but that future creeps closer each day. However, it is possible to lessen this stress by preparing as best you can in your sophomore year. Consider completing the following 10 steps this spring in order to experience a smoother semester this fall:
1. Evaluate your first semester
What did you do well during the first half of sophomore year? What strategies should you carry into junior year? The ability to critically reflect upon your personal performance will become increasingly important as you complete high school and enter college. Hone this skill now.
2. Review your PSAT performance
Typically, students complete the PSAT in October of their sophomore year. When you receive your results, read them carefully—do not place them in a drawer or folder and then forget about them. Your PSAT will assist you in setting a target score for upcoming standardized tests. You may also want to take a look at this information on what to know about the PSAT.
3. Select an initial ACT/SAT test date
The second half of junior year is the ideal moment to sit for the ACT or SAT. This timeframe enables maximum in-school exposure to each exam’s content. Decide upon a date for your first attempt with the ACT/SAT, and then make this date the end point of your preparation.
4. Develop an ACT/SAT study plan
Junior year may seem like it is an eternity away, but it is not! A year (or so) of review equips you appropriately for the ACT or SAT. Ensure your study plan reflects your preparation preferences, your strengths, and your weaknesses—then begin executing your test prep immediately. Here are some great tips to help you identify your study style.
5. Register for a college information session
Certain high schools encourage younger students to sign up for and participate in an information session about the college application process. If you have little idea of where to begin or have outstanding questions, utilize the opportunity. The application process may be more complicated than you initially believe!
6. Attend a college fair
Both community organizations and high schools host college fairs. These events are excellent chances to gather preliminary information about colleges and universities and to speak with admissions representatives. Compile a list of schools to further investigate, but also recognize that many programs will not be present (list them aside to research on your own).
7. Shadow a professional
Choose an occupation that interests you and locate a professional who will allow you to shadow him or her. Doing so enables you to properly evaluate your interest in an academic discipline. You can then plan your high school and university years accordingly, with authentic experience to draw from.
8. Increase extracurricular involvement
Select one or more extracurricular activities to reliably participate in, if you have not yet done so—chess, choir, club soccer, debate, etc. If you are already active in such areas, position yourself to move into leadership roles in your two remaining years of high school. These are some helpful tips on how to choose your extracurricular activities.
9. Discuss Advanced Placement classes
Speak with a guidance counselor or teacher to determine whether you are ready to enroll in AP courses. Though typically the territory of juniors and seniors, AP classes can serve as an early introduction to academics at the college level. You can even earn college credit!
10. Investigate summer opportunities
Build your college admissions package by leveraging the summer months before your junior year. Complete an internship or service project, or work within a field that may serve as your eventual college major. As such opportunities are competitive and disappear quickly, you should begin to research and secure your options now.