Sophomore year is a great time to jumpstart the college admissions process. If you have taken any standardized test by this point or submitted your contact information online, then it’s highly likely that you will start receiving college brochures soon. Yes, those glossy brochures can be very enticing. However before you get too excited about those beautiful campus pics, follow this top 5 checklist to get into your best colleges!

 

1. Take courses that challenge you.

Don’t worry about what your friends are taking or the rumors about a teacher to avoid. Colleges will consider how well you took advantage of the curriculum that your high school offers. Your success in these courses can also lead to merit scholarships from colleges.

 

Blue lights are everywhere on college campuses.

Blue lights are everywhere on college campuses.

2. Get involved in extra-curricular activities that interest you.

If there’s a club that you can see yourself leading, consider getting involved during sophomore year. Perhaps you could see yourself as yearbook editor, student council president, or secretary of 4-H. Then, sophomore year can be the time to learn more about those roles, as well as whether you enjoy participating. Please remember depth, instead of breadth. Focus on the few activities that you enjoy and excel in, rather than participating in 10 different clubs just for the sake of including on your resume.

 

3. Get to know your teachers and let them get to know you.

Your teacher recommendations will be an important aspect of your college applications. Set a goal to meet with 1-2 teachers on a monthly or bimonthly basis. Be sincere in your efforts by meeting with those teachers that you want to know better and/or have an interest in their subject area.

 

4. Read outside of school assignments.

Believe it or not, your local library has some fun ways for you to enjoy reading! If you have a library card, use it regularly and get involved with the teen events. If you don’t have a library card, get one right away . . . it’s free and easy to use. You can also take advantage of winter and spring breaks to read a book that you enjoy. Now, how does this relate to college?? Reading for pleasure will help with getting higher test scores, developing your intellectual curiosity, and writing your college application essays.

 

5. Own your online persona.

If you have any social media accounts, make sure that they are updated to protect your privacy and represent you well. Delete any questionable or unfavorable comments. (Do the “grandma check”: if you would be embarrassed by your grandmother seeing it, then delete.) More and more colleges are reviewing prospective students’ social media presence, so be careful!

 

Which of these action items is at the top of your to-do list?

 

Author: Pamela E

Dr. Pamela has helped thousands of teens attend the college of their choice. She brings her 25 years experience in education to assist families, schools, and employers with college selection, admissions, financial aid, and more. Dr. Pamela holds a PhD from Stanford School of Education, and an MBA from Dartmouth.

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