Sophomore Year Ideal Timeline
The Big Picture
Getting into college is a project/process. Multiple steps are required and many times the steps should be and are required to be in chronological order. Our goal at Clark College Funding Inc. is to help you find multiple colleges that meet your family's standards academically, socially, and financially. This tool hopes to help accomplish this goal by communicating the college planning process in an "ideal" timeline format. The big picture is communicated by using the yearly timelines. These timelines list the major steps over a calendar year in an ideal world, under perfect conditions, and with no other workload to consider.
- The mantra continues. Resolve again to be the best student you can be. Employ what you learned the first year about your study techniques and always continue to ask teachers, family, friends how to improve your study skills. Again remember, GPA and the difficulty of classes taken to get the GPA are the prime movers to getting admissions into colleges. As a quick enforcement of that thought, take the time to visit www.fairtest.org and look at the list of colleges that admit on GPA only. Grades are KING!
- Reevaluate your outside activities. Remember Depth is better than Breadth. Stated differently, the same thing at a higher level of responsibility is better, much better than activity in five different things. Example: Years ago, I counseled a young man who was a bit of a geek. He went to adult education in his town and created a power point presentation on how to use the computer to communicate. Simply put, he trained seniors in his town how to send emails and photos. He did this training once a week as an adult education class. He started out with a mere handful of people attending in his freshman year. He created a new class on how to use word and excel and raised the class on emailing and using the computer to a higher level in his sophomore year. His classes were gaining popularity and attendance grew. When he was a junior he was doing three classes a week and by the senior year he was a major attraction with 30 to 40 people a class. Since these were paid for classes (ten dollars a class) he was actually making some money. This is all he did for four years. He wrote his admissions essay on how he grew and matured into a full fledged trainer people could understand. He was also a good student and the combination got him into an elite school with a significant scholarship. He did not join any clubs, sports or band. He found a hook and rode it all the way to a university. Depth verses Breath is the leadership answer colleges want. What can you give back to the community as a extracurricular activity?
- Resolve again and check your college savings accounts. Reminder, the best financial planner for this is one who understands the college process. Example for analogy: In the financial area you can find specialist in long term care or estate planning. A different planner may be an expert in life insurance. College financial planning is yet a different segment of the whole financial planning process.
- Again like last year do not miss out on College fairs offered in your area. Early shopping helps a student/family see the various options and desires necessary to make for the ideal college. Even a physical visit can help a student focus on the goal that at this point in time seems so far away. A resource here is the National Association for College Admissions Counseling which organizes college fairs across the country. Check their web site for dates and locations.
- Let’s revisit the journal we started a year ago. If you have fallen out of favor with your journal, please revisit your friend the journal. Daily or at least weekly visits to your journal will help your writing skills; help you remember items that will be in your final resume come admissions time of your senior year. Communications skills are verbal and written. A journal will help you build on the art form known as writing.
- As you read this you may say to yourself, “I have heard this before”. You did. It is time to plan your Junior Year Course load with your High School Guidance Counselor. Taking higher level competitive courses can add to your level of admissions for more competitive colleges. The outline should be the core curriculum items and then if your career objectives are solid, look for courses that enhance your experience with the career objective. The core groups that should always be covered are: Science, Foreign Language, English, Social Science and Math. Be true to yourself. Do not overload. A low score in a competitive course is low and possible lowers your scores in other classes due to the time invested in the competitive course. With this caution mentioned, I would err on the side of reaching as being safe. Remember if you reach too far and do not do well, it may lower your chance at the elite college, but it makes you look super that you used the high school's course availability to the best you could do for other very good colleges. Your high school guidance counselor is your contact person for these goals for course selection and now is the time. With any course, always do the very best you can do. Do not just get by.
- Student/Parent, now is the time to review your personal finances and future budgeting for planning purposes. There are a number of things that can be done depending on the family situation. Seek out a financial planner who understands the college process and need based calculation process. The one size fits all process by most planners is a 529 plan. For many families it does not “fit” the college process of calculating need. Proactive things can be done now before the end of the calendar year that will set up the base year for financial aid. See your financial college planner now for a proactive review of your situation.
- Plan your summer activities. A job may be all you will do. A vacation may be on the list. Add some reading and educational pursuits of your choosing, not the school's. Branch out as you find out what you want to do. Investigate or “Shadow” a person for a week in a career you are considering. Consider something that will make you different from everyone else. Your hook, as college counselors call it.