Wednesday, October 30, 2013

High School Sophomores, Now is the Time To Think About College

If your college bound student is a sophomore, time is your ally. Use this time strategically and you can reap the most out of the college selection process. Use it foolishly, and you will need to read the following blog post in two years. Here are some tips on how to maximize your alliance with time. 

Rigorous Coursework
Over the years, I have had conversations with numerous college admissions representatives and the same people that read your student's college applications. One of most important factors colleges use to evaluate an applicant’s admissions are their high school transcripts. Each representative examine high school transcripts to assess how much a student has challenged themselves, especially looking for  Honors or Advanced Placement level coursework. They understand that these elite courses were not for each student and do not want to see poor marks on the transcripts. The suggestion was given for a high school student to enroll in the hardest courses that will challenge themselves, while experiencing success.

Visit Colleges
If you have not already stepped foot on a college campus, perhaps now is the time to plan a visit. As I have stated in a previous blog post, this is a great way to determine if your student is the proper fit for a campus. Being a first semester sophomore, it is a good time to expose students to a college campus. Perhaps there is a local campus that has an 'open house' on a fall day. Take advantage of the campus tour and the admissions information session. Researching online, reading brochures and talking with college admission representatives at fairs cannot replace the unique 'feel' of each campus. This experience will benefit the entire college bound family.

Take Interest Inventories
Sophomore year is the right time for a student to explore potential college majors. Students should seek subjects they enjoy in school and discuss potential career options. Students can talk to family members in potential fields or search out these careers online. Another good way is to take an interest inventory. Perhaps their high school uses Naviance or a similar program to seek potential majors/careers. If not, they could seek out a professional to administer a Myers-Briggs Type Inventory or similar test. Once they receive their results, students should discuss the results with their family, then research ideas that are of interest to them. This will help guide the college selection process. 

Another way to find a potential career or college major is for the student to seek out employment in a field of interest. This will provide invaluable experience in the field while being exposed to its everyday tasks. If a job is not available at a particular company, perhaps there are summer internship opportunities or even a job shadow program. This will also help build a student's communication skills and high school resume, while exposing them to the concept of networking with potential employers. 

Do you have other ideas on what a high school sophomore can do to prepare for college? Add in a comment and let us know.
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