Preparing for College: Sophomore Year (10th Grade)

During your sophomore year you will continue to work with your guidance counselor to establish a challenging class schedule and participate in the activities you began in your freshman year. This is also the year to:

Research Colleges & Majors
You are probably already familiar with a few colleges. Maybe you follow their sports teams, know of someone who attended, or you live close to the campus. While you shouldn’t choose a college based only on these factors, looking into schools you are already familiar with can be a good place to start. The colleges website is always a good place to start your fact finding but also talk to friends, family, or teachers about where they went to school. You may learn of a school that you never heard of but that could be the perfect fit.

Now is also the time to start thinking about what you might major in. Commonly referred to as “major” your academic major or major concentration is area of study that you commit to either when you apply to college or after enrolling in a college or university. Depending on the institution, you may be required to “declare your major” before being admitted or you may be able to enter with an “undeclared major”. Your major dictates the degree you will graduate with and the careers you will be qualified for. If you’re not sure what you might want to major think about classes you most enjoy or hobbies that may be applicable to a career. You may also consider majors in demand based on employment opportunities.

Take the PSAT
The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It is typically recommended that you take the PSAT during your junior. However, some high schools will allow you to take it as early as your sophomore year. Check with your guidance office to verify that this is an option at your school. Taking the PSAT will allow you to see how you stack up against others applying to college, identify areas to focus on in preparation for the SAT/ACT, begin receiving information from colleges and universities.

The PSAT measures critical reading, math problem-solving, and writing skills not recall of specific facts from your classes. Therefore, being a sophomore should not put you at a disadvantage vs. taking the exam your junior year. The advantage to taking the PSAT during your sophomore year is simply time. Based on what you learn from the PSAT you can focus your junior year on taking or improving your SAT/ACT scores. However, students in grade 11 can also enter scholarship competitions sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Regardless of which year you decide to take the PSAT it may undoubtedly be beneficial. The College Board also supplies schools with fee waivers for students in eleventh grade from low-income families who can’t afford the test fee. See your guidance counselor for more information about fee waivers.

The 2014 PSAT dates are Wednesday, October 15 and Saturday, October 18. The test will be administered on ONE of these dates by your high school or a high school in your area. Contact your high school counselor or principal to learn how to register for the test. They should also be able to tell you what the test fee is, how to pay the test fees, as well as the correct date, time, and location that your school will offer the test in October. Be sure to check your guidance office for a copy of the Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT to help you prepare before test day. To find a high school in your area that is offering the PSAT visit https://psatordering.collegeboard.org/pno/public/search.do