Freshman year of high school flies by and before you know it, you are already preparing to step into 10th grade and become a sophomore. After a whole year of trial experience, you should be able to navigate high school rather smoothly. Before you create a conundrum in your head, here’s some advice for sophomores.

Pursue activities that truly interest you

The best advice for 10th graders we can give is to join as many clubs as you can. As obvious as this advice sounds, it may become blinding for students to decide if they seek involvement in a club or afterschool activity because they will feel enriched by it or they just want to write it down as one of their accomplishments in high school. You can join as many clubs as you want but if you are not truly interested in their cause and purpose, they are of no substance to you. It is better to invest time cultivating interests that you already have and explore interests you might want to pursue. Don’t ever make decisions about extracurricular activities based on what you think might look good on an application, be true to yourself. 

Take a language class all throughout high school

Being bilingual is a common occurrence nowadays. Language classes are usually a requirement because the skills you develop are extremely beneficial. Take the classes seriously, don’t just coast through the class and only aim to pass it. It will also help you when you go off to college, as a lot of institutions have opportunities to study abroad that will lead you to expand your academic and cultural boundaries.

Take practice standardized tests seriously

Since the PSAT has no stakes, a lot of students take it for granted. However, it is an incredibly good tool to gauge where you are and where you need to be. It will help you start studying for your standardized tests and give you a basis of experience so you know what the real tests will be like. Next year you will also be taking the PSAT in October, however, this time merit scholarships are at stake. The October test is called the PSAT/NMSQT, short for PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. If you score high enough, you can become eligible for scholarships that will help you finance college. If you have a good PSAT score in 10th grade, aim to get it higher for the PSAT/NMSQT.

Become involved in leadership opportunities

Sophomore year you are usually assisting club meetings and volunteer within some clubs at your school. After all the involvement, you know what can be beneficial to the club and what might need to be changed. It is your chance to better the club by becoming a club leader. This doesn’t only apply to clubs, but to every other aspect of your life. Start cooking for yourself, find a job, start tutoring, etc. Take leadership in and out of the classroom and try to seek out experiences that will prepare you to step out of your boundaries and will strengthen your leadership skills.

Challenge yourself

Another very obvious piece of advice, but one you really need to consider. You are not in high school just to go to a good college afterward. The knowledge, not only academically but personally, is going to start shaping who you are and who you will become. Choose classes strategically to align with your goals and interests. Always try to take the classes that will challenge your position and help you build your knowledge reservoir.

Know your boundaries

With that being said, don’t go crazy with your classes. Taking 16 APs in high school doesn’t mean anything if you got mostly C’s. Take classes that you know are within your potential and that will simultaneously allow you to have free time and enjoy high school. Instead of taking the most rigorous coursework, I would suggest crafting a schedule that you are intrigued by beyond the fact that it is an advanced class. Understand your boundaries now so that you know what type of classes and schedule you are able to manage in college.

Start creating your college list and visiting if you can

Start filing down on your interests and what you expect from your college experience. Write a list of what you want and what you don’t and make a list of colleges that you might be interested in looking into. Check out your local state school and universities to get a sense of what college life might look like. Even better, if you are able to travel and visit universities, start early. It is best when you are already informed in junior year and you only have a few other colleges to visit and you’re ready to make your final college list. Check out 5 Tips for Building Your First College List.

Learn to manage your time

Everyone works differently, therefore you will need to find the best way for you to be productive and manage the time you have to not only get work done but get to have fun as well. Sophomore year is great to start taking deadlines seriously. Try to follow a schedule and be realistic with the time you give yourself to study. Don’t cram!

Do your readings

Seriously. It is surprising the number of students who get by reading Cliff notes and summaries instead of actually reading what they are supposed to read. Even though that might be the case and you’re doing just fine, what are you learning from that? You are wasting your time and not really grasping the benefits that you gain from reading the actual novel, like problem-solving skills and being able to deduce things from the context given.

getting to know your guidance counselor

Build a relationship with your guidance counselor

Senior year you will most likely live in your counselor’s office. It is not a bad idea to become acquaintances with them now. They are there to help you, therefore if you even have a college question or personally need help, they are great to have by your side. If you feel like you need additional help, consider contacting an independent advisor to help you through the college admissions process.

Whether it’s getting involved in new extracurricular activities, preparing for junior year, or challenging yourself by taking on more rigorous classes, our college counseling program‘s student-centric approach focuses on making the student as well-rounded, but competitive as possible.