A High School Sophomore’s College Planning Guide

You may think college prep can wait another year, but current college students will tell you otherwise. Sure, college applications and the FAFSA don’t have to be turned in until your senior year, but, the early bird gets the worm and early sophomores get the jumpstart on college. Starting your college planning as a sophomore can be super beneficial.

Sophomores can start prepping for college!

Flickr user Innovation_Schools

Many students believe they don’t have to start their college search process until late junior or early senior year, but that’s not the case. If you start college planning as a sophomore, you’ll have more time to do your research, write your essays, fill out applications, and come up with a college-ready high school class schedule. After all, practice makes perfect. Check out College Raptor’s high school sophomore guide for college classes and prep. 

1. Prepping for the ACT/SAT/PSAT

Although juniors in high school are the ones generally taking the PSAT or PreACT, there are plenty of sophomores who take them as well! These tests are extremely important for your college applications, so the practice does help. The PSAT awards scholarships to full-time students who score high, but only juniors are eligible. Taking it a year early and then taking it again the following year can help you be familiarized with the test and give you a better chance of scoring well or even winning the scholarship.

Learning the format of these entrance exams as a sophomore will help you become comfortable with taking them before you have to take the real thing during your junior year of high school. Your scores will reflect your ability to comprehend instead of just how good (or not good) you are at taking tests. It’s a smart idea to take the ACT or SAT exams more than once, as studies show that taking it again tends to lead to improved scores.

College Raptor has all the resources high schoolers need to succeed at taking these exams so they can get into their dream college!

2. Research Colleges

It’s never too early to look at college options, even during your sophomore year! Start looking at pictures, college ratings, offered majors, cities, and overall information about schools that interest you. You can learn your likes, dislikes, and must-have qualities by starting earlier and just exploring your options now. Knowing the average SAT/ACT scores and GPA requirements will help you know what it will take for you to get into your desired colleges. 

You also may want to visit colleges you are interested in. Your local community college can be a great place to start so you don’t have to travel far at first. Then, you can plan to visit colleges that are farther away next year. You can get a feel for the campus, town, and community and potentially add schools you’d like to consider more carefully or cross them off your list entirely when you take visits.

College Raptor’s college match tool is a one-stop shop for finding colleges of interest to you. All you have to do is enter your information into our free match service and you’ll discover colleges based on your academic interest, financial needs, location preferences, and many more factors. You can also discover your acceptance odds at these schools as well as what financial aid you might receive from them.

3. Creating the Best High School Schedule

Colleges love to see academic rigor in a potential student’s schedule. What better way to start prepping for college than by prepping your high school schedule? Talk with your high school counselor about picking the classes that will not only challenge you and suit your academic interests but also impress college admissions officers.

Keep in mind that you need to have enough time for extracurriculars and other activities outside of your schoolwork when creating a rigorous schedule. 

4. Exploring Majors and Potential Careers

Now is the time to really explore majors and potential careers that catch your eye. Take a look at your strengths as well as your passions to find something suitable for you. Do you like helping people? Are you good at analyzing data? Do the functions of the human body interest you?

Choosing electives for your upcoming junior year is also important to your college planning guide. You may consider taking an extra English course or continuing with a language course. Select classes that you think would pique your interest or support your future career or college program goals. 

5. Take Part in Extracurricular Activities

Taking a closer look at the extracurricular activities around you could give you a chance to explore your interests outside the classroom. You may even discover a passion you didn’t know you had, something that influences your decision when it comes to college or a major.

Take a look at what clubs exist at your school and circle the ones that interest you. Attending the first meeting day can give you an idea if it’s for you or not. There are clubs for hobbies, student government, student council, and academics, so we’re sure there is something right for you!

6. Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are available for high school students, too. There are merit scholarships, athletic scholarships, and more. Use College Raptor’s scholarship match tool to see every scholarship you’re eligible for. You could have college completely paid for by the time you graduate high school! 

It’s never too early to start college prep, whether you’re a freshman, a sophomore, or a junior in high school. Getting started now will put you ahead of the game and make senior year less of a scramble to the finish line.

By following our high school sophomore college planning guide, you’ll breeze through the college application process, ace standardized tests, and build a strong resume for your future. 

Use the College Raptor college match tool to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the U.S.—for FREE!

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