The Summer Before Sophomore Year of High School (10 Tips for Moms)


sophomore yearNot much advice is given for the sophomore year of high school. It’s almost as if it’s not an important year in high school. But it is. Every year in high school is important if your child wants to move on to higher education.

Your teen has jumped in and is now a “seasoned” high schooler. Hopefully you have both gotten use to the high school routine. Sophomore year brings your teen closer to their goal of attending college. It’s during the 10th grade that your teen will begin to take some baby steps toward realizing their goal of a  college education. The focus for this year should be: preliminary testing, looking at careers, delving deeper into the college search, and getting heavily involved in a few activities.

Here are 10 tips to help parents prepare for sophomore year:

1. Begin talking about life after high school

Is your student drawn to traditional college or more toward a technical education or even entrepreneurial endeavors? These are important discussions to have as your student proceeds through high school and on to graduation. Technical colleges like Penn College address both issues by providing hands on training and a liberal arts education. But if your student wants only the technical training which is often a shorter time frame, you should also explore these options as well. Just remember, however, that this is only a discussion. Your student may change his mind many times over the next few years; but be open to any possibility.

2. Do Preliminary Testing

This is the year to take the PSAT (preliminary SAT) and PLAN (preliminary ACT). Why take them so early? First of all, because it doesn’t count and it’s great practice; secondly, because it will give your teen an idea of their testing strengths and weaknesses while they still have time to make improvements.

The key to utilizing these early tests is for your teen to get the scores and the test booklet and review the questions to find out which ones were answered incorrectly. Don’t just take the test, file the scores, and cross that task off your list. The whole point of testing early is to utilize every resource available to help your teen achieve testing success. There is nothing more disappointing than receiving low test scores when your teen excels in academics in school. Testing is all about being relaxed and knowing what to expect. These preliminary tests will help alleviate the stress of the unknown and help your teen prepare for the ones that really matter.

3. Explore careers

By now, your teen should know what interests them in school. Are they drawn to the sciences? Or is drama their cup of tea? Do they excel in math? Or are they interested in literature? These interests will serve to guide your teen down the right career path. It would be useless to pursue a career in the medical field if science and math are your teen’s least favorite subjects. It would also be frivolous to head down an acting career path if your teen does not like being on stage in front of people. Analyze their interests and strengths to guide them in choosing the career that would best suit them and feed their passion.

4. Take personality and/or career inventory tests

You can start here: and search for other tests online. Most of them are FREE and can be used as a tool to further determine the direction your teen might be heading in the college/career search. Many schools have software and testing as well that they offer to their students to help them find the right match.

5. Attend career days

Many cities offer career days with speakers from various walks of life. Encourage your teen to attend these and ask questions. Find out where the speaker attended college and the types of classes he/she might recommend if your teen is interested in that career. There’s nothing more beneficial than speaking with an actual doctor, lawyer, engineer, actress, musician, teacher, fashion designer or entrepreneur.

6. Delve deeper into the college search

You’ve done some internet surfing, looked online at some colleges that might appeal to your teen, and done some preliminary reading. This is the year that you increase the depth of your college search. As you progress through the process and the research you should get closer to narrowing down the schools that best fit your teen.

7. Start making a preliminary list

This is your teen’s list of college possibilities. Every teen has their “dream” college. They may not voice it, or allow themselves to think about it, but most of them have that name sitting in the back of their mind. Once they begin to know what their interests are and what is important to them, the list will start to take shape.

8. Take some online college tours

You and your teen can take some virtual tours of college campuses, and even purchase DVD’s of specific colleges if you want more in-depth information. These preliminary tours will give you and your teen a feel for the campus and prepare you when summer comes along and you start visiting some campuses. These visits are extremely important, and I will go into greater detail during the junior year plan. However, getting an early jumpstart, especially with some colleges within driving distance, will help your teen get an indication of what to expect when the tours become more focused as you begin to narrow down the final college choices.

9. Get heavily involved in a few activities

Admissions counselors have antenna for students that “pad” their high school resumes. These are the ones that dabble in a little of everything but never get involved in depth. While it’s important to try many different activities during high school, it is also important to settle on the few that interest you and stick with them. The goal is to eventually take on leadership positions or an active role in the mechanics of the organization. Help your teen to find the one activity that interests them and stick with it throughout high school. My daughter got involved in NJROTC and eventually became an officer in the corps. She also joined the drill team and the academic team, showing a level of commitment and focus.

10. Don’t forget the scholarship applications

You should encourage your teen to continue applying for scholarships. This task becomes more important during the next few years because many scholarships have age requirements and restrictions. Stay on top of the application deadlines and don’t get the “sophomore slacker” attitude. Your teen is headed into the home stretch and junior year is looming on the horizon.

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2 Responses to “The Summer Before Sophomore Year of High School (10 Tips for Moms)”

  1. Shelby Boisvert says:

    Suzanne, nice article here! I get my freshman moving it as well, some are ready and some ask why they have to think about now. Having early conversations and dialogue makes it all that much easier!