College Ready? Start Early!

Head’s Up Sophomores

It might sound crazy to start to think about college when you are only in your sophomore year of high school, but believe me, you will be glad that you got a head start on this overwhelming task.  Here are a few things for you to think about as you are still in high school.

  1. Get involved and stay involved.  Whether it’s on a sports team, the choir or a club.  Spend 4 years building a history with that activity and maybe even try a leadership position.  Colleges like consistency in something you are passionate about.
  2. Start doing some ACT/SAT prep in the Summer of your sophomore year.  I did MindFish, but there are also private tutors as well as online classes.  It’s just a good idea to take the test several times, so you can get a feel for what you are good at and what you need to work on.
  3. Take AP classes that matter to you.  If you like English then make sure you are taking AP classes in Literature.  If you are a STEM kid, then take AP science and math classes.  You don’t have to take all AP classes, in fact, most colleges are really looking for what you are passionate about.  So again, focus on your passion.
  4. Look at essay prompts and start to make notes about you and what you would write about.  Even better, keep a running resume on your laptop of things you have accomplished, that way you have a document to refer to when you start to write about your experiences.
  5. If you are a musician, start to work on choosing your audition pieces and begin to practice now, because most schools require memorized pieces.
  6. Get to know your school college counselor or hire a private counselor.  I used Rause College Consulting.   Jen was a wealth of information on helping me narrow down my choices and guiding me through the process.
  7. Here are a few books that I like and were very helpful to my research process:

Fiske Guide to Colleges

The College Finder

  1. Don’t take the Summer off and just lie by the pool.  Sorry, but it’s important to take this time and either do a Summer program that relates to your passion, for example, I’ve done several music camps or volunteer, i.e. camp counselor is a great way to get paid and have some funny experiences to write about.  Or just find a summer job/internship that shows your level of commitment and responsibility.
  2. Take a required class online.  I took a Civics class online which gave me more freedom my Senior year to take classes that interested me.  I recommend Denver On-line High School.
  3. Get to know your teachers and ask early for letters of recommendation.  It’s hard for a teacher to write a letter for a student they barely know, so make an effort to spend some time before or after class with your teachers.
  4. Start early making a wish list of schools.  This could be as easy as googling Top 10 college music programs!  Then go to the school websites and look around.  They usually have interactive tours of the campus and lots of good information on degree programs and campus life.

If you do all the hard work ahead of time, then you can have fun your Senior year, visiting the colleges on your short list, filling out applications and fine tuning your essays.  I recently enlisted the help of my friend Sydney to show the Dos and Don’ts of dressing for those important college and internship interviews.  Sydney is not only the Captain of Kent’s Speech and Debate Team, she also landed an internship in Mayor Hancock’s office!  Normally I tell you to take fashion advice from me, but in this case, I will defer to Sydney!

tone-down-the-makeup

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