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Sophomore Year and the Feeling of Freedom

By Molly Walsh -

Sophomore year of high school usually comes with the thrill of getting your driver’s license! I remember turning 16 in January of my sophomore year and being one of the first of my friends to drive. I couldn’t wait to get a taste of freedom and be able to do what I wanted when I wanted. But driving also came with unanticipated hindrances. Gas costs money, friends wanted rides, in my case, chauffeuring my little brothers around to their baseball games, sharing the car with my older brother, and having to follow a curfew. Being on my own was still a great feeling, but the newness eventually wore off.

The point of my story is that you will soon have an abundance of independence. Just because you’re relishing the possibility of more freedom doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own.

Your main job at this point in life is to attend school and do your best. Take advantage of more challenging classes and add one or two more extracurriculars. Know your boundaries, though, and don’t overload yourself. Taking AP and Honors classes may be intriguing, but you must also do well. Getting C’s in those courses won’t help your transcript. Try adding one AP class to your schedule for the fall semester and see how that goes before taking multiple challenging classes simultaneously.

By now, you should have started a spreadsheet (reread my February Blog) of colleges, locations, costs, sports, clubs, majors, and GPA and test scores requirements. Add to this list. You may hear friends talking about schools that seem interesting to you, so add those schools to your list. Take some time to visit a few colleges in the area and look online for virtual visits. Your spreadsheet should grow at this point. Aim for 20 colleges on your spreadsheet by the end of sophomore year. Cross off schools that don’t meet your needs, but don’t delete them. You may want to look back to see why you were no longer interested in the college, and your mind may change in the future, so you may want to revisit it as a possibility.  

This is also the year you take your PSATs. The PSATs will give you an idea of the SAT format and how you will do on the SATs. For the last few years, submitting SAT scores has been optional at many colleges, but that trend is coming to an end. Colleges and Universities are reinstating the standardized test policy. The schools believe they get a better read than the students when they see the whole picture, which includes SATs and ACTs. 

Look for leadership opportunities. You may be a team or club member, and now is the time to step up and take on a leadership role. If you have an after-school job, volunteer yourself for more responsibilities. Start your own campus organization or run for student council. This may feel out of your comfort zone, but when you find something you are passionate about, leading a group will be a piece of cake!

Continue with the same foreign language all through high school. My children were not keen on foreign languages, and their classes presented some anxiety for them. They did not take a language for all four years. When they got to college, a foreign language was required, and because they only took two years in high school, they pretty much had to start all over again in college. I’m sure they would give you the advice to stick with it! Plus, let’s face it, it looks great on a high school transcript!

Do not panic about college yet; have fun, study hard, and start small by adding to your college spreadsheet. The little things add up, so when it’s time to apply, you’ll be prepared!


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