Welcome to our year-by-year breakdown of how to prepare for college applications! Our second post in this series is all about preparing for your Sophomore Year. Please note that this guide is a very generalized plan—use it as a starting point, and feel free to tailor it to your own situation. For more personalized tips and advice about applying, check out our virtual advising services!
At the beginning of the year, sign up for challenging courses and keep up your grades!
Continue participating in your favorite hobbies and extracurriculars. Colleges like to see commitment to an activity over a long period of time, which is often all four years of high school. Remember that really committing yourself to a few extracurriculars is much better than jumping all over the place and participating minimally in too many things, and if you’re not happy doing something, don’t be afraid to drop it.
Consider running for a leadership position for a club you’re part of! But if you don’t end up getting one, don’t worry about it too much. Try your best to demonstrate your commitment to the club as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to run again next year!
Colleges are interested in what you do during the summers after Sophomore and Junior year. Ideally, you should spend your summers further pursuing your interests.
If you’re thinking about applying to summer internships or similar programs, start looking in the fall and winter, because some applications open pretty early.
If you’re old enough, consider applying for a job! Even if it’s not necessarily related to your interests, a job can look great on college apps since it shows hard work, commitment, and an ability to get along with others.
You could also take an online course related to your interests at a local community college, or through websites like Coursera and Udemy.
Don’t forget to relax a bit. Family time and vacation time are important. You don’t have to spend your entire summer working hard on resume-building activities; just don’t waste your whole summer doing nothing.
Consider registering for and taking SAT subject tests in June, right after the school year ends, so the content will still be fresh in your mind. With some self-studying, some sophomores take the Chem SAT or Math II SAT. But if you’re taking AP Chem during your Junior year, it might be easier to take the Chem SAT subject test after completing the course.
Though requirements are changing now due to COVID-19, some students start preparing for the SAT or ACT during the summer after sophomore year. It’s a good idea to prep in the summer because you’ll probably be pretty busy during the school year. Before studying, take a full-length practice SAT and an ACT (you can pick up free copies from your high school college & career center!), then see which one you’re more comfortable with or do better on—don’t study for both. There are many different forms of test prep and tutors, but the most important thing is taking practice tests, since they’ll help you familiarize yourself with the timing and format of the test and build up your test-taking stamina (these tests are hours long!).
Think about visiting some college campuses and taking campus tours, if it’s convenient.