In Part Two of our “Roadmap” series, we mentioned that sophomore year is not too soon to think about your future college career. Beginning the admissions process early cuts down on stress. It also allows time for “course corrections” if you hit unexpected roadblocks.
Remember: Planning ahead for your academic future means you can take time to fully investigate opportunities that interest you. You can consider important decisions without feeling rushed or under pressure. The time you devote to these topics is an investment you make in your future.
How, then, can you keep the momentum going for the next two years? What should come next?
Here are a few guidelines to help you continue to be productive in your junior and senior years.
- Make your summers count. Summers are traditionally divided between fun (beach trips, family vacations) and business (working double shifts to grow your college fund). Invest in yourself by setting aside some test prep time as well. Students who scored above 1200 on their sophomore year PSAT should prepare for the PSAT in the summer before 11th grade. Other students may want to use the summer before junior year to work on improving reading, writing and math skills before doing test prep in junior year. Check out our test prep timeline for more information.
- Keep those grades up! During freshman year, you were still making the transition from middle to high school. Colleges will understand if freshman grades are not stellar. Grades in sophomore and junior year, however, should impress in order to send the message that you have successfully adjusted to high school and are thriving.
- Participate in extracurricular activities. If your grades go up and you are the linchpin of the orchestra’s brass section, you present an even better image. Edit the school newspaper, try out for the spring musical, or play running back for the football team. You don’t have to do all three. Just pick one or two things you want to devote yourself to. You will beef up your application. Incidentally, you will also have fun and engage in enriching experiences.
- Know your dates and deadlines. Junior year is the time to visit college campuses and gather information. Once you know what schools you are interested in, start that application process! Fall of senior year is the time to schedule college interviews and start applying for financial aid. Also, decide from which teachers and counselors you would like recommendations. Give them plenty of time! You want a thoughtful, detailed recommendation, not one hastily put together on 24 hours’ notice.
- Wait for those acceptance letters to roll in! Spring of senior year is when you reap the results of your labors. Once you are accepted, it’s time to pat yourself on the back and enjoy the end of your high school career. College move-in day will be here before you know it!
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our focus is always on you. Our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you would like more information, our Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware are available to answer questions and provide solutions. You may reach either of them by calling A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at