The Middle Years of High School: Sophomore and Junior Year

Originally published in the Kenosha News

By Vickie Leflore, Youth Development Extension Educator

You’re not a new freshman and this is not your senior year of high school, preparing to move on with your life … you are in the middle of your high school career.

Sophomore and junior year are extremely important years, just as beginning and ending of high school. High school is the time for you to explore who you are and where you want to go.

As a sophomore, you have now settled into the world of being a high school student. It is important to not lose focus during this shift from being new to the environment. Rather it is a time for more engagement, by developing your leadership skills and putting in added effort into difficult courses which will be rewarding as you navigate the high school process.

As a sophomore, check with your school to see if the practice PSAT 10 (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) or the ACT (American College Test) Aspire are offered. These test prep resources allow you to see where you are academically. Check with local colleges and your school to see if any pre-college program opportunities are offered to provide you college exposure. This is also a great time to contact colleges that interest you.

During your junior year, you should start to hone in on your future plans, granted you may not know your exact plans, it is important to start narrowing your options. Colleges and universities have specific requirements, the courses you take play a major role in shaping life after high school. Junior year is a good time to ensure your course load mirrors that of a college-bound course load.

Junior year, revisit your PSAT prep to see your progress from the previous year as well as take the ACT. Make a realistic list of colleges that meet your criteria (majors, cost, size, location, special programs, etc.). Delving into the cost of funding your college education is essential and can be a major contributing factor in choosing a college. Starting a scholarship search will be beneficial since typically scholarships do not change their requirements every year, generally, the essay may change slightly. Junior year is a time to start building your list of references that you will ask to write recommendation letters for you, as well as drafting your college essays.

Below are the upcoming test dates:

ACT Test Dates

Feb. 9, (registration deadline 1/11/19)

April 13, (registration deadline 3/8/19)

June 8, (registration deadline 5/3/19)

July 13, (registration deadline 6/14/19)

SAT Test Dates:

March 9, (registration deadline 2/8/19)

May 4, (registration deadline 4/5/19)

June 1, (registration deadline 5/3/19)

Throughout your entire high school journey, take challenging courses, maintain above average grades, regularly meet with your counselor, research colleges and admissions processes, explore various career interest, take advantage of leadership skills opportunities, work on improving reading and writing skills, and visit colleges of interest. In addition, research summer internships throughout this journey as it will provide valuable hands-on experience.

It is vital that students and parents work together on the college admission process and plans. Finally, make sure you take time to enjoy your middle years in high school.

To learn more about youth-serving programs, visit https://kenosha.uwex.edu/youth-development/.