While the junior year is known as the most challenging academically and the crucial year for the college-bound journey, it is wise to jump-start the process in the spring of 10th grade. Families are often surprised to learn, or be reminded, that by the completion of first semester sophomore year the GPA for college application has reached the halfway point.
PLAN ACT-SAT TEST DATES
Sophomores who are in advance math, greatly benefit from early testing. Some should, and will, test as early as June immediately upon completion of 10th grade. The advantage of early testing is being able to plan around personal “busy seasons” as well as clearing the student plate of testing during college visits and applications. Those who aren’t in advance math may not test until winter or spring of 11th grade, however, it is still beneficial to plan those dates well in order to maximize performance and not become overwhelmed.
You can jump-start your planning by requesting a free test plan from LEAP. Just complete our online form to plan via email or phone, or you can attend the next free ACT-SAT Planning Workshop in Cincinnati.
IDENTIFY POSSIBLE COLLEGE MAJORS
The college investment is now often $100,000 or more. Gone are the days of simply finding a college that fits. College, while it should be a fun and awesome 4-year experience, is a vehicle to a 40+ year career. Nothing is worse than a student falling in love with a campus that doesn’t offer their best-fit major for their future career.
By starting with the end in mind, you’ll be able to filter colleges you consider by the career fit and avoid visiting those that don’t make the cut. LEAP has completed over 2800 career coaching sessions to provide clarity of the college goal. Doing so costs less than one semester’s worth of college books when you are getting ready to make a likely 6-figure investment. Learn more here.
WRITE YOUR RESUME
Resumes aren’t just for adults seeking jobs. There are 4 uses for the resume during college applications. However, by putting the resume together NOW, students can identify gaps in their pursuits with plenty of time to fill them before the end of the junior year in time for August 1 applications in the senior year. Read one student’s journey from 10th-grade resume development to a full-tuition scholarship for college. Had she waited, she’d have missed the opportunity and a savings of approximately $50,000 on college.
COURSE PLANNING & RIGOR CHECK
LEAP once had a test prep student whose GPA and ACT score matched the averages of those admitted to The Ohio State University. He wasn’t admitted. Why? OSU stated that while the grades were great (practically straight A’s), he hadn’t challenged himself in high school. He took the safe road of no honors classes to keep the near-perfect GPA. That’s not what colleges are seeking.
With grades and rigor being universally the number 1 factor in getting admitted, colleges expect students to take appropriately rigorous courses. When scheduling comes around for the junior year, LEAP suggests students ensure appropriate rigor and also sketch out the senior year, so there won’t be missed opportunities if there are prerequisites that need to be taken in 11th grade.
It’s the rare student who can shoulder all AP’s, get enough sleep and stay healthy. Our suggestion is to consider your passions, strengths, future goals and teacher recommendations then up the rigor where appropriate for you.
SET COLLEGE VISIT DATES
While you might not yet know where to visit, busy families benefit from identifying dates of when to visit. Learn why LEAP suggests most visits be complete by May 1st of 11th grade. To accomplish this, follow three simple steps.
- Print out your school’s academic calendar during your student’s junior year. These are typically available one to two years in advance on the school website.
- Get out the family calendar. Mark all days off school for breaks, teacher professional development, etc. up to May 1st junior year.
- Determine your school’s policy for excused absences for college visits. These days can be tacked on to weekends or breaks for schools at a distance or used alone for schools close by.
By being proactive, you’ll be less likely to become overwhelmed and more likely to enjoy the college-bound journey.