There’s an old Chinese saying that goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But no matter how unsure you feel taking that first step, every single one after that will be a little easier. It also helps if you have a plan to follow through your freshman year—and here it is.
Prepare for standardized testing
- Take the ACT PLAN test in the fall, normally in October or November. This is a valuable test to help you prepare for the ACT which you can take during your junior year in April or June.
- Review PLAN test results with your parents/guardians and school counselor. Compare these to your EXPLORE results to measure growth.
- Take the PSAT in October. The scores will not count for National Merit Scholar consideration in your sophomore year, but it is valuable practice for when you take the PSAT again in your junior year when the scores will count. You will receive your PSAT results in December.
- Start preparing for the ACT or SAT.
Update your file of important documents and notes
- Copies of report cards
- Lists of awards and honors
- Lists of school and community activities in which you are involved, including both paid and volunteer work, and descriptions of what you do
Continue your college search and visits
- Think about selecting a college, finding out about the different types. Decide which characteristics are most important to you, such as the size of the college, distance from home, cost, and programs of study.
- Visit colleges and talk with college students.
- Be ready with a list of questions to ask on your campus visit.
- Make notes after your visit so that you can remember what you thought about the campus.
- Review the high school course you need to take to meet the requirements of the colleges you are interested in attending.
Find out about honors-level courses at your school
- Ask if AP or other honors courses are available.
- See if you are eligible for the honors classes you want to take.
- Find out how to enroll in them your junior year.
Other top tips
- Continue extracurricular activities, as admissions officers look at students’ extracurricular activities when considering them for admission.
- Continue participation in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music, arts, and science.
- Continue to meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year