In baseball there is an odd phenomenon called "the sophomore slump." Talented baseball rookies put the pieces together and by the end of their first season, they think they know it all. Somehow, their second season demonstrates all those finely tuned skills are a little bit off, and Year 2 can go off the rails.
Don't let something like this happen after a successful first year of high school. One transitional segment down, you have the two most important years ahead to build a formidable resume that will force universities to consider you a top prospect. In this first of two-part blog post, we help illuminate your path to the college of choice.
You should be on your correct track of classes already. If you are confident, take those AP and Honors classes. If you are struggling with anything, get assistance ASAP.
Seek out your school counselor. These are busy people helping juniors and seniors land at the best university. But you--as a sophomore--have a labyrinthine passage to arrive at the best place for you. Get on your counselor's radar and ask questions, never forgetting the counselor sometimes knows the college admissions personnel and a few tricks of the trade you don't. Your goal this year is to get that counselor to recognize your face, call you by name and understand you are serious about finding that best fit.
Sports and clubs. You tried out and made a sports team already. Now do something new or get on the track to move into a leadership position as an upperclassman. Hang close to a coach and ask questions about why certain game situations require different tactics. If in music, try a similar instrument to the one you have gotten good at playing. Sit in and gauge your interest in clubs from Anime Club to International Club to Youth and Government. Sophomore year is the time to firm up how your high-school resume will dazzle a college admissions officer. Variety and consistency are crucial, but this is the year to make sure you cast a wide net of activities--and include some public service whether local like the town animal shelter or national as in Habitat for Humanity. Now learn how to stand out within chosen programs. Demonstrate creativity, leadership, a special skill. Spend less time on Facebook and Instagram and begin to develop a LinkedIn profile. One tip: If you like Citizen Club or any of the young political clubs, sign up to be a High School Election Judge in states that have programs that encourage students to become part of the process before they can vote. For a university with roots in the political arena, it's a potential admissions game changer.
Take some career-interest questionnaires. We guarantee you will discover some career ideas you didn't realize were a good fit. Pare down your list of potential majors; you probably know by now if you are STEM material or a gifted public speaker. Think about big, like 80,000 undergrads, medium, a dizzying array of midsize public and private schools, or maybe small liberal arts colleges. Scan The Princeton Review's Best Colleges and/or Fiske Guide to Colleges. Make a list of 10 or 20 or more. Even if the list is big, it gets you focused. Read about the schools and follow them on social media; some of them will feel familiar but others seem completely new. Personally, I find the origins of universities and how they came to develop specialties and odd traditions very entertaining. Maybe you will, too, and in the process become curious about an intriguing college as a possibility.
- Mike Ryan