What Next? College Prep for Sophomores!

The clock is running.  Every grade, activity, and choice could affect your post-secondary options.

College prep starts today and you are in the right place right now!

Congratulations for choosing today to take charge!

Read on for your personal outline for success.

  • Section I — Tips for success
  • Section II– Monthly planner

Tips for success!

  1. Grades count! So do the classes you take. Remember that all four years of high school are recorded on your transcript, so give every course your best effort.
  2. Correct Curriculum! Colleges prefer four years of English, social studies, math, science, and a foreign language. Good grades in honors, AP, and other challenging courses carry extra weight. Work hard now to prepare for next year!
  3. Extracurriculars are outstanding! Sports, music, drama, clubs, get involved! Don’t stress – you don’t have to do it all, but do something. Even the “safety” schools expect students to show a record of extracurricular activity.
  4. Volunteer to be exceptional! Colleges are looking for ways that you are unique and that you have more on your mind than you. Volunteering and community service show interest in others and stands out on a resume.
  5. Where do I start? Visit the College & Career Center or counselors at your school to explore your career interests, research job-shadowing opportunities and learn about colleges.
  6. Relevant research! Attend college fairs in your area.  Visit local colleges while they are in session and talk to college friends and neighbors who are home on breaks.  What do they suggest you do to prepare?
  7. Summer suggestions! Look for part time work, an internship, or volunteer opportunities.  Stay involved with athletics or other extracurricular activities if the opportunity exists.
  8. Take the tests! Register for PSAT at your school or an alternate site for an alternate date. This is great practice for the SAT. Register online for the SAT by mid-March for May test and by mid-April for June test. The ACT is offered more frequently and is a possible alternative for students with strong science and social studies skills.

Monthly Planner

September / October

  • Challenge yourself. Be sure you are taking the most rigorous course-load you can handle. Get off to a good start in classes!
  • Plan your extracurricular year. Not a fall athlete? No problem, but what is your season or place to shine? Get involved.
  • Did you volunteer over the summer? Get started now. A track record of volunteerism makes a resume shine!
  • When did you last update your resume? Add summer job experience, volunteerism, sports, clubs, committees, education to date . . .
  • Take advantage of college fairs (MarketPlace Mall, Eastview, Convention Center) and opportunities when college reps visit schools. (Start thinking.)


  • Future plans . . . What do you want to do in life?  Start thinking about fields and careers you may want to pursue.  If you have not already done so, check with your college & career counselor about taking personality and interest assessments to help match you with “best fit” career options.  Your school may offer these or suggest a provider as most are fee based.  Some options they may offer include:
    • Career Assessment Inventory (CAI)
    • Career Orientation Inventory (COI)
    • Campbell Interest & Skills Inventory (CISI)
    • Campbell Interest and Skills Survey (CISS)
    • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
    • Strong Interest Inventory (SII)
    • Hogan Motives, Values & Preferences Inventory (MVPI)
  • Check out job shadowing and explorer post options. Medical, criminal, engineering, technology, and many other fields offer opportunities.
  • Consider creating a digital portfolio of some of your best work! See a librarian, tech teacher, or other professional about tools and suggested content. Your teachers will be a great sounding board for ideas.
  • Winter sports athlete? Great!
  • Music or Drama student? Stay involved in appropriate activities!
  • Stay focused on the grades! Start thinking about classes you want to take next year. Check out opportunities for college level credits.


  • Meet with your counselor to go over PSAT results.
  • Plan to attend Financial Aid Seminar – take your parents to this one!
  • Start thinking seriously aboutcriteria you will use to choose schools to visit and investigate. Big school or small, city or rural, in-state or international, . . .
  • Begin to reserve dates on your calendar and map out colleges to visit — Road trip!


  • Make an appointment with your counselor! Time to discuss plans you have been making for classes next year, college visits, and more.
  • Ask about scholarship opportunities for juniors! Get websites and passwords if needed for college-choice decision-making tools.
  • If you have any interest in attending a military academy (West Point, Annapolis, USAFA Colorado) check with your counselor for application instructions.
  • New Years Resolution — What community service or volunteer activities are you pursuing?
  • New Years Resolution — How are you doing on suggestions from previous months? Get started now if you’re lagging behind.
  • Start to firm up plans for your first college visits — February break?


  • How are your grades? Keep them up! Any updates for the resume? Keeping it current is easier than trying to backtrack.
  • February break road trip? If not, take the time online or with college publications to increase your knowledge about some of your stand-out schools.
  • Have you met with your guidance counselor? Make an appointment. Time to start planning now!
  • The doldrums of winter, with half the year under your belt, is a great time to work on a digital portfolio of your accomplishments!
  • Any interest in the military or the academies? Visit recruiters during school visits or at their office. Get academy application info from your counselor.


  • Finalize schedule choices for senior year. Challenge yourself!! Take advantage of college credit courses if they are available (UofR & RIT through RH)
  • Spring sports athlete? Stay involved!
  • Check out options through your school (& online) for college and career research (College and Career Center)
  • Pay attention to scholarship opportunities for seniors. Are there any you qualify for? What can you do in next year to qualify?
  • Register to take the SAT or ACT — Don’t miss the deadline!
  • Begin to prepare for the SAT or the ACT
  • Plan for spring break college visits.


  • Take the April SAT or ACT if you are registered. This allows a re-take if you want one!
  • Visit colleges during spring break. Great time for a road trip with Mom or Dad.
  • What volunteer activities are you involved in? Get involved! These are the activities that separate you from the crowd.
  • Search for potential opportunities to work or volunteer within your preferred professional area over the summer. Network. Contact strangers. You never know what you might find.


  • Spring is here and grades are still important! Don’t check out!
  • Attend local college nights or college fairs
  • Continue to refine your list of priorities to assist with narrowing focus for college search
  • Continue to prepare for SAT or ACT if testing in June
  • Update your resume before summer. What have you done this year?
  • Consider asking teachers for recommendation letters now – beat the senior year rush and let teachers focus while you are fresh on their minds.
  • Keep searching for opportunities to work or volunteer within your preferred professional area over the summer! Stretch outside your comfort zone to be successful!


  • Finish the year strong. Study for exams!
  • Take the SAT or ACT – even if your top choice schools don’t require it!
  • Register for summer school to make room for more college credit classes?
  • Plan summer college visits.
  • Touch base with counselors regarding any questions you have and possible scholarship opportunities you can work toward over the summer.
  • Potential Division I or II athletes should see counselors to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

July & August

  • Have a great summer!
  • Visit colleges if you put it off during the school year.
  • Update you digital portfolio, or create one now, with year-end projects that show your full potential as a student.
  • Volunteer, work in, or at least visit professionals in your preferred career area if you have the opportunity.
  • Participate in some volunteer or community service activities in your free time.
  • Plan to come back to school rested and ready to focus!

Much of the content on this page was borrowed or adapted from a high school counselor’s Website. Thank you Patricia Prinzi from Rush Henrietta. A much shorter, less detailed junior year planning guide is available from the ACT company.