Parents’ Timeline for a College-Bound Sophomore
We have created the most comprehensive timeline available. If you think your teen would benefit from any part of this, please direct them to the appropriate year of the “Student Timeline” under “Student Resources.” The same information is there but directed specifically to the student. Some of our resource links are repeated because they help in several categories and apply for more than one year. Go here for over 100 resources:
Academic Prep and Goals
- Students need to pursue a quality curriculum and improve their study habits. They should continue to work hard to keep their GPA high. The grades and test scores submitted in their applications give them permission to play. Their extracurricular activities and essays will help them get across the finish line.
- Students should continue to get help from tutors in classes where they struggle. Catch it early, especially in math and foreign language.
- Students need to request a meeting with their college counselor to ensure they are on the right track with their courses for entrance requirements into college. Remember: They should not depend on the school college counselor to totally prepare them for the college application process. If they need answers, they should be the squeaky wheel. The national student-to-counselor ratio is 424:1, and in California, it is 900:1. The recommended ratio is 200:1. Use other resources in addition, if possible.
- Students will register for the practice PSAT that takes place in October. They should take several practice tests before they go to know what to expect. This test is vital to prepare for the actual PSAT in their junior year, which can qualify them for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
- Students should set us a meeting with their counselor to ask about AP (Advanced Placement) and Honors courses they should take.
- Students will benefit from taking AP subject exams after completing each course while the information is fresh in their minds.
- If students still plan to play a sport in college, they need to meet the NCAA requirements. They should contact the coaching staff of the schools they want to attend. It is essential to let the coaches know they are very interested in their schools. Research the requirements of the NCAA.
- It is vital to get help EARLY from professionals for SAT and ACT preparation. There are specific strategies to follow when taking these tests. Students should take as many practice tests as possible to learn where they need to improve. Plan which dates they will take the SAT or ACT. Register before the deadlines to avoid late fees.
- Students should keep all their social media accounts positive and clean. Expect college admissions officers to look them up during the admissions process.
- Students need to stick with their plan to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Take assessments to clarify them. They need to learn to live by their values and pursue their purpose in life. College admissions officers are looking for students who know what they stand for and have a plan for their lives.
- Students need to continue to improve their time-management skills and break bad habits. (Time management is one of the main struggles of first-year college students.) Perfect this sooner rather than later.
- Students should take as many assessments as possible to narrow in on careers that fit their skills.
- Students need to take assessments to determine what they want their college experience to be. What type of university would they like to attend?
- Students should ask professionals about their jobs. Do they like what they do? How much education is required? They should be bold in asking if they can shadow these professionals for a few days sometime in the future.
- Students need to develop the skill of writing thank-you notes to show gratitude: a much-admired trait. They should order thank-you notes with their first and last names on them.
- Students need to stay involved in extracurricular activities. They should strive for leadership positions in the activities that best suit them. Remember: Colleges are looking for a student with a dedicated interest in a few specific activities rather than a surface interest in many.
- Students should work with friends to develop entrepreneurial endeavors and find volunteer opportunities that meet a need in their community or another location. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or time-consuming.
- Students need to plan ahead for their summer activities. They shouldn’t wait until the last minute, or many opportunities will be lost. They should apply for summer internships, job shadowing, college camps, etc.
- A student needs to set up an email account with their full name on it to be used for all college-related correspondence.
- Students should form a list of colleges they think they might be interested in attending. 10-20 schools.
- Families need to visit universities in their area and places they travel to during breaks or for sports competitions.
- Students should get contact information from each tour guide, admissions person, professor, or coach that they meet during their visit. The student should:
- Keep a journal with all the details of their visits to compare them later.
- Send hand-written thank-you notes on personalized stationery (a rare effort these days) to those who helped them better understand the university.
- Refer to their visit details in their application essays using the notes in their journal.
- Students should research the universities they cannot visit.
- Students should attend college fairs and ask the representatives interesting questions.
- Students should continue to record all activities, jobs, awards, honors, etc., from the summer before freshman year. Keep them in a safe place to use for college, scholarship, and job applications.
- Students need to continue to strengthen their relationships with teachers and faculty. They will be asking some of them to write recommendation letters for their applications, so they need to know the student well.
- Families need to talk about college funding. Create a plan. Students should get a job and save money, if necessary. Continue to explore possible scholarship opportunities. Find professionals who can help in these areas.