College Planning Advice for High School Sophomores

Chances are you’ve just started to think seriously about college. You’re probably excited, maybe even a little bit overwhelmed. But wherever you are in your search, Goshen can help.

Important tips and advice:

The PSAT. Basically, the PSAT is the world’s most comprehensive practice test. You should study for it, definitely, but don’t stress out too much – because the purpose of this test is to prepare you for the SAT (or PLAN as pre-ACT). You should make an appointment with your high school counselor in the fall to register for the PSAT. Your counselor can also help you find practice tests (many are online) and give you some helpful hints about test-taking strategy. And remember: PSAT scores from your sophomore year don’t count toward National Merit Scholarship eligibility, but PSAT scores from your junior year do count. So, this year it really is all about “practice makes perfect.” Studies have shown that taking the PSAT for the first time as a sophomore means you’re more likely to get a higher score the second time around.

Make sure your coursework is on track. In general, you should be taking the most challenging courses possible. Advanced Placement and/or Honors classes look great on your transcript and will help you be a better college candidate. Most colleges require you to take a certain number of foundation classes – math, science, English, etc. Your high school counselor can help make sure that your schedule is up to snuff, but it’s also a good idea to check with the specific colleges regarding their requirements.

And if your grades freshman year were less than stellar, don’t panic. In general, colleges like to see a progression of improvement from freshman through senior year. So, this is the year to hit the books – and start getting those grades up! Try to maintain a 3.0 GPA with grades of A and B in high school classes because these grades turn into opportunities for college scholarships.

Start researching colleges. Take some time to think about what you want out of your college experience. Would you be happier at a big university, a small college or a two-year technical college? Do you care about intercollegiate athletics – or are art and music facilities more important to you? High school counselors can also help you research colleges of interest and schedule your classes accordingly.

Keep your stress level low by creating an organization system for all your college documents.

If possible, try to go on a few campus visits. That’s the best way to know if a college or university is really for you. Learn more about visiting Goshen College »

Keep doing lots of interesting, cool things. Grades and test scores are important, but so are extracurricular activities. Colleges want well-rounded students, and they LOVE to see that you care about stuff outside the classroom, too. Now is a great time to volunteer in your community, as well as staying active in whatever it is you love to do: sports, art, theater, music, etc.

Explore different careers you might be interested in and find out the college major that is recommended for the career and what colleges offer the major.

Some helpful links: