Academic Check Up: Refining Your Plan for College (Sophomore)
Wow! It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the school year already! Before the holidays are in full swing, December is a great time to refine the strategic plan for your student’s college preparation. Here are some steps to take as you plan ahead for next semester:
Redefine the big picture plan.
In ninth and tenth grade we’ve encouraged you to develop a “big picture plan,” a general idea of where your student is headed academically. This includes potential careers and passion projects that give you a “center” around which you can structure his academics and extracurricular activities. Now that you’re one semester down, redefine this plan by eliminating activities or curricula that aren’t equipping your student. Streamline and simplify. Assess your student’s growth and how his or her interests have changed in the last few months; does this change the direction of their college or career interests? Are they expressing new passions or showing new strengths? These factors will help you further narrow down the focus of their schooling over the next few years.
You made it through a semester. How did it go academically? Does your teen need some extra support? A tutor or extra resources? A quick adjustment now can create excitement at the thought of a fresh start in January and allows you to adapt to your teen’s specific needs.
Refine transcript and resume.
Keep a document tracking your student’s accomplishments – no matter how small! Not all of these will end up on your child’s transcript and resume, but it’s nice to have a list for future reference. If you haven’t already created a transcript and resume, start one with your student this month! Teach them how to create, edit, and maintain these documents so they have a hand in their education and can answer questions from future admissions committees or employers.
Think about job shadowing opportunities.
This is a great time to take a career test (like a personality test for potential careers; StrengthsFinders or CareerDirect for example) and assess what careers interest your child. With a few options in hand, you can begin searching out job shadow opportunities. Job shadowing is similar to volunteering but more short-term. Your student might spend a day at a local hospital following a nurse through her routine or watch an engineer drawing plans in AutoCAD. Watching professionals at work will grant your student insight into potential careers and help them determine if the field may, in fact, be their calling.
Evaluate dual enrollment classes and CLEP / AP tests.
For most schools, the junior year of high school is the first standard year a teen can dual enroll. Does that route make sense for your teen? If so, schedule time in the spring to begin the application process, as well as decide if you will pursue any CLEP or AP tests and AP exams this next semester. Remember: CLEP tests are best for areas of strength, where a student has enough knowledge of the subject that he doesn’t need to sit through a college class. AP exams can be taken in a similar fashion to CLEP (without a class) but are typically more rigorous (and more widely accepted). It’s best to take exams like these immediately after the related high school subject.
Make sure to check in to our Facebook group, and catch our live videos every Thursday at 3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT (we will be off the week of Christmas and New Year’s Day).
Have questions? Email [email protected]!