7 Ways to Take Advantage of Sophomore Year

The transition from freshman to sophomore year of high school is rooted in refinement of the goals you have set. Decisions and choices reach a little deeper than before. Fine-tune your curriculum and continue developing expertise in your abilities and talents. Reflect on experiences from freshman year and identify academic and personal goals so that you can take advantage of your sophomore year and the years to come. What were your triumphs? What were your struggles? Of course, this is not a lifelong trajectory set in stone, but it is a way to deepen the school experience you began your freshman year. 

Educational planning is critical now. As a sophomore, you face hard choices. The selection process begins as you take the first steps toward your specific trajectory. Sophomore year is a time to determine the right degree of rigor in the curriculum, commit to developing personal interests, and devise a plan for your remaining high school years that will ensure growth and reward. 

1. Plan Your Curriculum Strategically 

Every student needs a four-year plan to stay on track for graduation. Choices suddenly become plentiful. It is important to determine the degree of rigor, and think about strengths and challenges as you consider honors classes, AP courses, dual enrollment, or IB curriculum. 

Carefully review your course selection. Seek out a trusted advisor, such as an educational planner, to help you discern how your strengths and weaknesses apply to course selection. Not interested in a third year of foreign language? Many colleges put a premium on that as an indication of academic rigor. Eager to drop math? This is also an omission on your transcript that will be noticed by admission officials. Lacking a foundation in a key subject area might cast doubt on your application. If you decide to pass on the standard college prep path, be sure to replace it with a course that is equally challenging. 

Incorporate challenge, but wisely. Engaging just the right amount of challenge will allow you to master difficult material with a sense of reward and accomplishment. This is the fine-tuning that defines sophomore year. 

2. Select Key Activities

Sophomore year is a chance to review how you are spending your time. What changes are you envisioning? Take inventory of your personal interests and consider your strengths and passions. Ask yourself what clubs, organizations, and sports teams you enjoyed during freshman year. Keep a digital record of your pursuits and accomplishments, including an activity list of clubs, hobbies, sports, work, volunteer, or camp experiences. Use this list to hone your time commitments to just a few main activities. Think about an area of expertise you want to develop further. It is a question of depth versus breadth, quality over quantity. The advantage of Sophomore year is that you now have more flexibility to commit to key activities and, in doing so, open the door to have leadership roles in the future. Commit to your highest interests and take them to a new level. 

3. Look To Leadership 

Take a step in the direction of leadership and become a future standout in your chosen interests. This is the year to read voraciously, acquire great skill in writing, and speak up in class. By exercising your strengths and developing insight about the challenges you face, you will find your voice. Articulating and discussing your thoughts and ideas will bring clarity to the direction you want to take. 

4. Take Advantage of Practice Tests 

Practice makes (near) perfect, and sophomore year is the year of the practice test. Consider your test strategy and begin to get some experience with the PSAT/ACT. Use your PSAT scores and other practice tests to get a sense of how you are doing and what kind of test prep you will need before you take the official test during junior year. If you are applying for testing accommodations, be sure to submit the proper application and documentation to the testing agency. An educational planner can assist with the submission of this application. 

5. Sophomore Year is a Great Time to Consider Colleges 

Start a conversation with family, teachers, and an educational planner about the college experience. Visit a campus or two to gain perspective. Talk to recent graduates or students currently enrolled in college. Describe your academic interests to them because they may have valuable insights or advice for you. If you are a student-athlete, talk to your coach and research your potential opportunities as a recruit. 

Finding the right match in a college requires a thorough investigation. There are many unique colleges and universities that serve the needs of all types of students. For example, schools may offer unique programs in a particular major or significant learning support for students who need accommodations. 

6. Live With Intention 

As you increasingly focus on your specific interests and personal academic plan, you may find that friendships also take on a new shape. This second year is about seeking friends with whom you can share your thoughts. Rather than getting to know everyone, a tighter group may appear in your daily life. Make conscious choices about where to spend time, with whom to spend time; approach your life with intention. Manage your studies, invest in good sleep habits, and commit to a physically healthy routine. 

7. Cultivate Your Narrative 

As you begin to emerge from all of the decisions you have made during your sophomore year, you will begin to see patterns in your choices. Your story is beginning to emerge. During the freshman and sophomore years, growth in knowledge and personal stories has given purpose and meaning to your high school experience. Your decisions, accomplishments, and activities have begun to shape your story. 

Taking Advantage of Sophomore Year Means Investing In Yourself

Your journey through sophomore year will fine tune your academic interests, social dynamic, and individual passions. To truly take advantage of sophomore year, you will want to plan strategically, reflect thoughtfully, and live intentionally.