Counseling/Guidance Office » Sophomores-Are You Ready?

Sophomores-Are You Ready?

Parent Action Plan: 10th Grade


As your child settles into the high school experience, it’s a great time for him or her to take on new challenges. It’s also not too early to explore colleges, college majors and career goals. Use the list below to help make 10th grade count.

  • Visit a college campus together. It’s a great way to get your 10th-grader excited about college. Learn more about how you and your child can prepare for a campus visit.
  • Get the facts about what college costs. You may be surprised by how affordable higher education can be. Start by reading Understanding College Costs.
  • Help your sophomore explore career ideas. He or she can make a list of interests, talents and favorite activities and start matching them with occupations. Learn how to use exercises like these to make a career worksheet.
  • Come up with fun reading ideas. Look for magazines or newspapers your child may like and talk about the books you loved reading when you were in high school. If your family makes reading enjoyable, it can become a daily habit.
  • Make sure your child meets with the school counselor. Your sophomore should schedule a meeting to talk about college and career options and to make sure he or she is taking the most-appropriate classes. Learn more about the high school counselor's role.
  • Encourage your child to set goals for the school year. Working toward specific goals helps your high schooler stay motivated and focused.
  • Make a plan to check in regularly about schoolwork. If you keep up with your child's tests, papers and homework assignments, you can celebrate successes and head off problems as a team. Get homework tips for your sophomore.
  • Talk about extracurricular activities. Getting involved in clubs and other groups is a great way for your child to identify interests and feel more engaged in school. Read more about the benefits of extracurriculars.
  • Help your 10th-grader get ready to take the PSAT/NMSQT, if their school offers it to sophomores. Taking the test this fall can help your child prepare for the SAT and get on track for college. Sophomores can also use their score reports to figure out which academic areas they need to work on. Learn more about the PSAT/NMSQT.
  • If your child was not offered the PSAT/NMSQT as a 10th-grader, they may be offered the PSAT 10 in February or March. They are the same test, just offered at different times of the year.
  • Review PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT results together. Log in to the student score reporting portal with your child to learn what she or he is doing well and which skills your child should work on to get ready for college and career. It will also connect your child to free, personalized SAT study tools; AP courses; and college and career planning resources.
  • Start thinking about ways to pay for college. Most families get help paying for college costs. Read 7 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid to learn more.
  • Encourage your sophomore to consider taking SAT Subject Tests. Many colleges require or recommend taking these tests to get a sense of your child’s skills in a certain academic area. In general, it’s best to take a Subject Test right after taking the relevant course. Learn more about SAT Subject Tests.
  • Discuss next year’s classes. Make sure your child will be challenging him- or herself and taking the courses college admission officers expect to see. Learn more about the high school classes that colleges look for.
  • Make a college wish list together. Talk with your 10th-grader about qualities he or she may want in a college in terms of location, size, majors offered and so on. Check out How to Find a College That Fits You to learn more about deciding on college must-haves.
  • See how much you need to save for college. Use the College Savings Calculator to get an idea of where you are in terms of your savings goal.
  • Help your child make summer plans. Summer is a great time to explore interests and learn new skills — and colleges look for students who pursue meaningful summer activities. Find out five ways your high schooler can stay motivated this summer.
Taken from College Board.

Financial Aid Checklist

Freshman/Sophomore Year
  • Find out how financial aid can help you afford college. You might be surprised by how affordable a college education can be. Check out 7 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid.
  • Learn the basics of college costs. Besides tuition, what expenses do college students have to cover? Find out by reading Quick Guide: College Costs.
  • Get an idea of what college might really cost you. Check out 9 Things You Need to Know About Net Price to learn why you may not have to pay the full published price of a college. Then pick a college you’re interested in and go to College Search to find its profile. Click the Calculate Your Net Price button to see that college’s estimated net price for you — the cost of attending a college minus grants and scholarships you might receive. Save the data you enter, when possible, so you can recompute the net price as college gets closer.
  • Talk to your family about ways to pay for college. Discuss the options and share ideas about how your family might pay for it.
  • Save money for college. Bank part of your birthday money, your allowance or your earnings from chores or an after-school job for future college expenses. Even a small amount can be a big help when you’re buying textbooks and school supplies later on.
  • Challenge yourself inside the classroom. Good grades not only expand your college opportunities but also can help you pay for college. Some grants and scholarships — money you don’t have to pay back — are awarded based on academic performance.
  • Get involved in activities you like. Your activities outside the classroom — like playing sports, volunteering and participating in clubs — can lead to scholarships that will help you afford college.