Congratulations! You just finished your freshman year in high school. It’s was an exciting but challenging year because many things were new as far as your schedule goes, you were the “low man on the totem pole” for a year and the transition academically from middle school to high school is not an easy one. Hopefully you finished well and have no regrets. If you do though, don’t stress, there is time to improve.
Now you will be a sophomore and although you may not be the “low man on the totem pole” anymore, it is a unique year because you are still underclassmen and the academic rigor gets a bit tougher as well. Below are some things you can be doing as sophomores to position yourself well for the college application process you will be going through in a couple years. Some of these things however, will also position yourself for current success as well as success in college and beyond.
- Continue to stay involved in your church and youth group
Continuing to grow in your relationship with God is your first and foremost priority. If your church has a youth group, this is a great way to grow in your faith with other students who may be from your school but they also may attend other schools. There are also opportunities to grow spiritually and socially with friends at youth group events that can be experiences you may never forget. Your church also may offer opportunities for you to lead and serve in ways that begin to show you what your unique gifts and abilities are. These may be helping to lead worship, volunteering in the children’s Sunday school programs or nursery, help lead in AWANA or at your church’s VBS program, assist in your church’s tech booth, etc.
2. Take Advantage of Opportunities to Serve or Work Over the Summer
Although there are a few places that could hire you at age 14 or 15, you may not be able to get a job yet over the summer because most jobs require you to be at least 16 years old or older. However, if there are opportunities to work (mowing lawns, babysitting, etc.) definitely take advantage of these opportunities. Earning your own money (that isn’t an allowance from your parents) allows you to begin being a steward of that money which is a great skill to learn early on. If you have the opportunity to go on a missions trip then take advantage of this experience as well. I remember doing a missions trip to Mexico through my church after my freshman year of high school and it was a life changing experience I still remember to this day. It led to opportunities for me to go to Venezuela the next summer and helped me grow spiritually in ways that impacted decisions I made down the road. What you do doesn’t have to take up your entire summer but you should do something that takes you out of your comfort zone because it’s more responsibility and may require you to lead in ways you haven’t before. Definitely enjoy your summer with family and take time to relax as well.
3. Take Classes That Continue to Challenge and Stretch You
This is the most important task that will prepare you for when you start applying to colleges in a couple of years. You should be a student first and continue to progress and be successful in the classroom. Sophomore year is an important year when students begin to understand that they are stronger in the Humanities (English, History, Bible) or STEM (Science and Math). This is great to understand because you should begin to challenge yourself more in the areas you are more gifted in. Freshman year you established a foundation academically. Whether this is a strong or weak foundation depends on how you performed academically. If you had a strong freshman year academically, continue that strong performance sophomore year. This will only allow you to have more options when it comes to colleges that you can apply to in a couple years and provide more opportunities to earn merit scholarship money from the colleges you eventually apply to. If your academic foundation freshman year was not as strong because you didn’t do as well as you hoped, sophomore year is a great year to bounce back and show colleges that your freshman year was not really who you are academically by showing a big improvement in your GPA from freshman to sophomore year.
4. Keep Reading!
We all should be reading because it improves our knowledge and understanding and encourages us to be continual learners. As freshman and sophomores it is always important to keep reading what we love to read because it builds comprehension and vocabulary to help you be better prepared for the SAT and ACT that you will take as a junior and senior in high school. If you enjoy reading science fiction, autobiographies, mystery, sports fiction or biographies, history, etc., keep reading what you love and it is going to help you raise your Evidence Based Reading and Writing and/or Reading, English and Writing scores on the SAT or ACT.
5. Visit Colleges With Family or Friends
If you have the opportunity to tour a college because you have an older sibling visiting a college, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! I am bummed when I meet with juniors and they say that they didn’t visit colleges with their siblings. These are great chances to see what college life is like, get exposed to campus life and see what colleges may be a good fit for you down the road. Yes, it’s early and it’s always good to visit colleges as a junior or senior, but if all you need to do is tag a long with your sibling and parents or a friends family that asked you to come along on a college visit, please go and soak in the experience and get an understanding of what a college campus is like.
6. Stay Involved and Build That Resume
Continue to do what you love. You may have tried to play a few sports throughout middle school and freshman year you decided to continue to play one or two of those. You may have been playing an instrument throughout middle school and decided to play in 9th grade but aren’t sure whether you want to continue. You may have been in choir or band all they way through middle school and continued in 9th grade. By now, you should have identified a few extracurricular activities that align with your talents and interests. If you haven’t, you should be thinking about which activities on your plate best showcase and use your skills. You should be devoting yourself to a few as opposed to spreading yourself too thin across many. The quantity of what you are involved in isn’t as important to colleges than the quality of the experiences and the growth and leadership you take on doing the things you are talented in and love. You will be putting together a resume junior year so keep track of the extracurricular activities you participate in, awards you earn and the time you spend working and volunteering.
7. Look For Ways To Lead
Start looking for leadership opportunities. You might look into being an officer in a club, come up with a new club, or dedicate yourself to an independent activity. For instance, volunteering isn’t a “leadership position,” per se, but it shows independence and initiative, especially if you seek out and identify an opportunity on your own. These opportunities can be available in your community, at your church and here at school.