High school can be challenging at times—I know— I’ve been there, but it is an incredibly important period of time in your teen’s life that will help shape them into the kind of person they inspire to become. High school sophomores, in particular, have an opportunity to define their school year in a way that positions them to get in to their top choice colleges and get money.
It’s a good time to start thinking about their college choices and taking action steps to prepare for life after high school. Here are three ways your teen can do just that:
- Consider Starting College Early
If your teen is ready to study at the college level while working towards a high school diploma, many local colleges offer programs just for your teen: sophomores who want to take one or two college classes a year while in high school.
In this type of program, sophomores can choose from a variety of classes while investigating their choice of major and experiencing the college environment -— and each course that is completed counts toward both high school and college credit.
*You should check with your teen’s guidance counselor to see if your high school offers these types of programs.
- Study for the PSAT
Taking the PSAT in 10th grade offers an advantage in that students are able to get acquainted with the format and determine their level of comfort with certain test questions. Not every school offers the PSAT to sophomores, although it’s standard for juniors to take it for National Merit Scholarship potential. If your teen’s high school doesn’t offer it, you may consider requesting it through the college or guidance counseling office.
Results from the PSAT may also predict your teen’s SAT scores. Depending on the projected SAT score, perhaps your teen can then focus on the SAT in their junior year testing plan.
- Learn about the college admissions process and research potential careers
Now is a great time for you and your teen to become familiar with general college entrance requirements. Colleges will consider transcripts, test scores, extra-curricular activities, and writing samples. If there is an area of concern, then now is a good time to get a tutor or get involved. Whatever your teen does decide to do, my biggest suggestion is that they do those things that interest them. For example, if they have an interest in music, get involved. If they are not interested in Student Council, then certainly don’t get involved in Student Council just for the sake of college admissions. It’s not worth it!
To learn more about college and get additional additional resources, please encourage your teen to contact their guidance counselor as well, to find out what support is available at school.
Also, sophomore year is a good time for your teen to research potential careers and understand how much education and training they will need. Usually, guidance counselors may have career resources or state databases for students to access.
4. Apply to summer programs
There are a number of summer programs that high school sophomores may want to consider. Several programs are for sophomores only or may only accept students after sophomore year. These summer programs can have an academic or pre-professional focus. A number of them have an application process that’s similar to what colleges require, i.e. transcript, recommendations, essays. Applying to a summer program would give your sophomore an opportunity to see how strong their application is vis a vis other students in their class.
Certainly, if they’re admitted to a summer program then the experience could be informative for their plans even beyond high school.
In my roadmap for parents with sophomores, I share what parents must know as they guide their teen through courses, extra-curricular activities and self-discovery. Be sure to sign up for this roadmap so I can partner with you to achieve the educational vision for your teen.
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.