Congratulations on making it through your first year of high school! You have accomplished so much during an exceptionally challenging year. Now is the time to check off some items before your sophomore year begins. 

  • Choose your courses. Have you finalized your courses for sophomore year? If not, how did your courses go in ninth grade? If you received a B+ or higher, you may want to consider taking a more challenging course in the upcoming academic year. Are you nervous about your honors or Advanced Placement (AP) courses being too challenging? Consider taking an intro course in the subject through EdX, Coursera or a similar free (or low-cost) online option before school starts. Maybe even hire a tutor.
  • Reflect on your academic performance. Were you happy with your final grades? Were they a true reflection of the effort you put in? If you were disappointed, do you know why? Did you follow up with your teachers to ensure you understood the content? Set a goal for Sophomore year. Make sure it is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
  • Determine which extracurricular activities and academic interests you want to explore. Think about the activities you took part in this past year. Did you enjoy them?  Which activities do you want to join in the next school year? It is more than likely that these activities will take extra time as we transition to in-person events. Make sure to include activities that align with your academic interests and career goals. Start to explore if there are summer programs or camps offered in these areas, looking ahead to Summer 2022. Admission officers will look to see how you have explored your academic interests while in high school.
  • Start thinking about what you want in a college. Tenth grade is a great time to start visiting colleges (both virtually and in person). Choose different types of colleges to explore online. This will help you determine what type of college experience you want. Consider, say, large (typically more than 10,000 undergraduate students) public state universities, medium sized (4,500 – 10,000 undergraduate students) private universities, and small (fewer than 4,500 undergraduate students) liberal arts and sciences colleges. Review different academic majors and their required coursework, as this will also help you narrow down which academic interests you may wish to pursue. Create a list of pros and cons about each type of school and determine what school attributes you value the most. You don’t need to visit colleges officially until the summer before your junior year, but an informal unofficial visit is always a great place to start to see if you like the campus, setting and environment.

As you move into sophomore year, keep your plans nearby and revisit them frequently. This will help you meet your goals and prepare you for the next step in the college process. After making it through this past year, you are more than prepared for the challenges to come!

About the author
Emily Sheldrake

Emily received a BA from Middlebury College and an M.S.Ed. in higher education from University of Pennsylvania. Emily has more than six years of admissions and advising experience at several institutions, including Swarthmore College, Temple University and Penn, where she evaluated applicants for the Wharton School. Emily manages a caseload of clients as well as a team of AcceptU counselors. Emily is an IECA Associate Member.

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