I recently ran into a mother I know that is the parent of a sophomore. We were chatting about the college admissions process and it gave me inspiration for a blog post. Here are three things a sophomore should be doing to prepare for college admissions:
PSAT-I often sit down for initial visits with juniors and I ask them if they have PSAT scores from their sophomore year. This elicits a sly grin and they announce a set of test scores from their sophomore year that if it was their SAT from their senior year, I would suggest we start compiling a list of schools from the test-optional category. Then I ask them, “When you took the SAT, did you try to do your best?” And they look at me like I have two heads and say, “No, I did not take it seriously.” My suggestion for all sophomores is that they sit down and apply themselves when they take this test. Why? Because their scores will give us a general idea of where we stand as we start to look at schools. I am not suggesting that anyone do any prep or add an inkling of stress. Just sit down and give it your best effort. This score will provide an important gauge as we start to build a working list of schools.
ACADEMICS-Make sure that you are taking a level of rigor that stretches and challenges you and that you are doing your best academic work. The most important part of your application is your academic transcript, not only the grades you receive but the courses that you take will be evaluated. Keep this in mind as you choose courses for junior year. Ideally, you want to increase the level of rigor each year and improve your academic performance as well.
COLLEGE VISITS-Should a sophomore visit colleges? Absolutely! I am not suggesting that you go out of your way to do this. What I do tell families is that if you are taking a trip, and there is a school in the vicinity of your travels, you should try and make time to see it. You should also see colleges that are closer to home to compare and contrast a small school versus a large school, an urban campus versus a more rural one and private schools versus public options in your area. Ideally, a sophomore should have a sense of what they are looking for in terms of size, location and region/climate as they enter their junior year. I wrote more about this in another blog post titled “5 Reasons 10th Graders Should Visit Colleges“.
If you have a sophomore, I hope this helps you get started!