Sophmores, Now is the Time! Tips for the College Planning Process

During sophomore year, many students and parents start to feel some anxiety about college planning.  While I do not support or encourage intense worrying, there are some things that you can do to alleviate stress moving forward, and start your planning process. 

Below are some tips that can help you get started and manage your stress along the way!

ACADEMICS:

Colleges look carefully at your transcript and the classes you choose to take.  Are you taking a challenging course load at Sterne?  Are there classes outside of Sterne that will add rigor?  If so, consider taking those!

INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS:

Can you do your own laundry?  Do you pack your own lunch?  Are you able to get yourself up in the morning?  Do you know how to take public transportation?  Are you responsible for your own money and/or do you know how to manage your debit card?  Do you have your own bank account?  Can you cook a few simple meals?  If you take medications, can you manage those on your own, including re-ordering medication in a timely fashion?  You should be able to do all of these things on your own before you leave for college!  Now is the time to start practicing!

RELATIONSHIPS WITH TEACHERS:

At Sterne, you are lucky because your teachers know you well.  If you decide to apply to colleges that require teacher recommendations, you will need to ask 1-2 teachers and the Sterne school College Advisor (me) to write you a letter of recommendation.  Keep this in mind as you continue to develop your relationships with your teachers.  They have an opportunity to share information about you as a student to colleges. 

UNDERSTANDING YOUR LEARNING STYLE:

It is imperative that you as a high school student understand your learning style and what supports you need to be successful as a student.  At Sterne many supports are built into your daily life.  Teachers regularly make accommodations for you and they are all aware of your learning strengths and challenges.  This will not be the case in college.  You will need to be able to advocate for yourself and will be responsible for communicating with professors about what you need to be successful in the classroom.  Being able to communicate your academic needs takes time and practice.  Also, you may not even be aware of all of the support you are currently receiving.  Before the end of your sophomore year, talk with each of your teachers and ask them what supports they are providing for you.  Ask them what you can do to strengthen your skills.  Begin putting some of these suggestions into practice. 

PLAN YOUR SUMMER:

Summer will be here before you know it.  Be sure that you plan your summer to include a balance of organized activities as well as some downtime.  Summer is a time for you to explore interests, volunteer within your community, take a community college class to see what it’s like, get a job, and/or to deepen your leadership skills.  You definitely do not want to spend your summer indoors playing video games!  Get out and try something new or build on what you’ve already started!  You can also plan a few college visits to get a sense of various college campuses.  Though colleges are not in full session in the summer, they still offer tours and can be a great way for you to show your interest in a particular college.

DEEPEN YOUR EXTRACURRICULARS:

What clubs are you involved in at Sterne?  Are you becoming a student leader?  Now is the time to deepen your involvement in things that you love.  If you’re involved in activities outside of school, growing your leadership there can also show growth and maturity. 

STANDARDIZED TESTING:

All Juniors at Sterne can take the Pre-ACT as juniors.  If you want accommodations on the Pre-ACT, now is the time to begin the application process.  Ms. Myers is your point person at Sterne for ACT accommodations.  She is the person who, after you communicate with her, can apply for accommodations with the ACT.  You will need to register for an official test date before Ms. Myers can begin the accommodation application process.  You can always change the date in the future if needed.

Common accommodations include:  extended time, school based/special testing site, testing over several days, use of a computer for the written section of the test, just to name a few.

HEALTH:

Above all, your health is paramount.  Be sure that you understand how to take care of yourself.  How much sleep do you need?  What time should you go to bed so you can perform your best?  What foods help keep your body healthy?  How much exercise do you need?  If you know that you need work in any of these areas, now is the time to begin working on them. 

Submitted by: Rebecca Field, Sterne High School College Counselor