Admit-A-Bull // Official Admissions Blog

College Planning Tips for High School Sophomores


Welcome, high school sophomores, to an exciting phase of your academic journey! As you embark on the path toward college, early planning and preparation will help you stay on track. In this blog post, we’ll dive into some valuable tips and insights to help you navigate the college planning process and take full advantage of your sophomore year. 

7. Reflect and Set Academic Goals

Now is the perfect time to reflect on your academic journey so far. Take a moment to reflect on the previous year and evaluate your academic performance, extracurricular activities, and personal goals. Celebrate your successes and achievements, and be proud of how far you’ve come!

Next, identify areas where you can improve. Maybe you needed help with time management or found certain subjects challenging. That’s okay! Recognizing these areas for improvement is the first step toward growth.

Based on this reflection, set clear academic goals for the current year. Think about the subjects or skills you want to focus on and outline the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. For example, if you improve your math grades, you could commit to seeking extra help from your teacher or dedicating more time to practice problems.

You should try to make your goals specific and measurable. Instead of saying, “I want to get better at English,” you could set a goal like, “I will read one book per month to improve my vocabulary and writing skills.” Specific goals will keep you motivated and give you a roadmap.

6. Meet with Your School Counselor

Your school counselor is like your personal guide on the path to college. They have a wealth of knowledge and resources to support you throughout your college planning journey. So, be sure to schedule a meeting with them to make the most of their expertise.

During your meeting, discuss your academic progress, extracurricular activities, and any concerns or questions you may have. Your counselor can provide valuable insights and advice to help you make informed decisions. They can assist you in selecting courses that align with your interests and future goals, ensuring you stay on track for college readiness.

Additionally, your counselor can offer guidance on exploring college options. They can suggest colleges that may be a good fit for your academic and personal interests and share information about admission requirements, scholarships, and financial aid opportunities.

This meeting is also an opportunity to share your goals and aspirations. Let your counselor know what you’re passionate about and what you hope to achieve academically and beyond. By understanding your ambitions, they can provide personalized guidance to help you succeed.

5. Explore College Majors and Career Options

Sophomore year is an exciting time to dive into the world of college majors and career paths. It’s never too early to start thinking about what you might want to study and pursue in the future!

Start by researching various fields that align with your interests and strengths. Think about the subjects or activities that excite you. Is it science, literature, business, or something entirely different? Look for online resources, such as career websites and college major guides, that provide information about various fields of study.

Consider taking career assessment tests to gain a deeper understanding of your interests. These tests can help you uncover your strengths, values, and skills, which can guide you toward potential career paths that align with who you are. They can also suggest college majors that fit your unique qualities well.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals in fields that pique your curiosity. You can connect with them through informational interviews or networking events. Ask questions about their career journey, daily tasks, and what they love most about their work. Hearing firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights and help determine if a certain career path resonates.A sophomore student talking to her mentor about college planning.

4. Begin Researching College Options

Now that you better understand your interests and goals, it’s time to dive into researching the countless college options available to you. It may seem overwhelming at first, but fear not! We’re here to guide you through the process.

First things first, think about what factors are important to you. Do you prefer a college close to home, or are you open to exploring new places? What size college do you prefer? Are you drawn to a smaller, tight-knit campus community, or do you thrive in a larger, bustling environment? 

Consider the academic programs offered at each college and think about what majors or fields of study align with your interests and aspirations. Don’t forget to take into account the campus culture and the extracurricular opportunities available. Are there clubs, sports teams, or organizations that resonate with your passions and hobbies?

Now, let’s gather some information! Start by exploring college websites. They are treasure troves of valuable information, providing insights into the academic programs, campus facilities, student life, and more. For example, the USF website details information on academic programs, information on admission, and a look at our three different campuses.

As you gather information, consider creating a list of potential colleges to explore further. Organize them based on your preferences and priorities. This will help you stay organized and focused as you dive deeper into each college’s offerings.

3. Starting Thinking About Standardized Tests

While tests like the PSAT/NMSQT, ACT, or SAT may still be a year or two away for you, it’s never too early to start getting familiar with them.

First, let’s take a moment to understand the structure and sections of these tests. What are the different sections? How much time do you have for each? Familiarize yourself with the overall format so that it doesn’t catch you off guard when the time comes.

Now, here’s where the fun begins! Explore online resources that offer practice tests and sample questions. Many websites and apps provide free or affordable materials that simulate the actual test experience. Start by taking a practice test to get a sense of where you currently stand. Don’t worry if you don’t perform as well as you’d hoped. Remember, this is just the starting point!

With practice tests in hand, you can gradually build your skills and confidence. Create a study schedule that works for you, allowing you to dedicate regular time to practice. Break down the sections and topics, and allocate specific study sessions to each one. By taking a consistent and gradual approach, you’ll steadily improve your performance.A sophomore student using a laptop and a tablet.

2. Strengthen Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are not only a fun way to spend your time, but they also play a significant role in shaping your college applications. So, let’s dive into how you can make the most of your extracurricular involvement during your sophomore year.

First and foremost, continue participating in activities that align with your interests and goals. Whether it’s sports, clubs, community service, or the arts, pursue activities that spark your passion. Colleges want to see that you’re dedicated and engaged in activities you genuinely care about.

Here’s a pro tip: Consider taking on leadership roles or seeking additional responsibilities within these activities. Leadership positions demonstrate your ability to take initiative, work collaboratively, and make a positive impact. It’s not just about being a president or a team captain; even taking on small responsibilities within your group can showcase your commitment and leadership potential.

But remember, it’s not about piling up a long list of activities just for the sake of it. Quality over quantity is key. Colleges value the depth of involvement rather than a laundry list of activities. So, focus on a few activities that truly resonate with you and dedicate your time and energy to make a meaningful impact.

1. Evaluate Course Options for Next Year

The spring semester is a time of new beginnings and exciting possibilities. As you embark on the journey toward your junior year, it’s crucial to start thinking about the courses you’ll take. So, let’s dive into how you can evaluate your options and make informed decisions.

Take a moment to review the course offerings available to you. Your school should provide a catalog or course list that outlines the classes you can choose from. Take your time to browse through the options and get familiar with the subjects and requirements.

When exploring your options, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Consider Advanced Placement or Honors courses if you feel ready for the extra workload. These courses offer a more rigorous curriculum and can provide you with an enriching academic experience. However, it’s essential to assess your own abilities and determine if you’re up for the challenge. Pushing yourself can lead to personal growth and academic achievement, but you should also aim to find a balance and not overwhelm yourself.

Think about your long-term goals when selecting your courses. Are there any subjects related to your desired field of study or career? Are there any prerequisites you need to fulfill for specific college majors? Taking courses that align with your interests and aspirations can give you a head start in pursuing your dreams.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider your overall workload and balance your courses with other commitments and responsibilities. Try to find a healthy equilibrium between academics, extracurricular activities, and personal well-being. Prioritize self-care and ensure you have enough time to devote to each aspect of your life.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning

Whether you have a dream college already in mind or are still in the process of figuring out which school is right for you, preparing in your sophomore year will help set you up for success.

If you're interested in learning more about whether USF is the right fit for you, the Admissions website is your go-to resource. It offers a wealth of information and resources to help you make an informed decision. And don't hesitate to reach out to our friendly admissions advisors. They’re available to answer any questions you may have. Start the conversation by contacting us at or give us a call at 813-974-3350.