The spring of sophomore year can be fun. You feel more confident about your place in school. Perhaps your parents are granting you more freedom and depending on where you live, you might even be revving up to get your driver’s license. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but you’re also hitting that point in which everything starts moving faster and before you know it, you’ll blink and be in college. So, while it may seem a little early, there is no time like your sophomore year of spring break to start preparing. Admit it. We know you’re kind of excited.
Go on Tour
While that persuasive essay assignment wasn’t exactly successful in getting your parents to let you go alone to Cabo with your best friend this spring, another trip might yet be in the cards for you. We recommend using your spring break to tour colleges. We know. The opportunities are seemingly endless. Over the next year or so, you will inevitably narrow down your preferences and have a clearer idea of what you want in a school. So, for now, we recommend getting started by visiting ANY school. It doesn’t matter. The point of the exercise is to jump in and make note of your impressions. So, pick a place you’ve always wanted to visit and tour the colleges in that area.
Accentuate the Negative
Have opinions. Negative opinions are just as helpful as positive opinions. After our clients visit schools as sophomores, we sit down with them and ask them what they hated about those universities. Did they dislike the size or location? How was the weather? What about the people and the campus? It’s really important to identify these criteria for yourself. You can like the school, but you need to be able to reflect upon why. Also, don’t put the school you're touring on a pedestal. It can be intimidating to walk around a prestigious college campus as a 15-year-old. Just know, your opinions are valid. It’s okay to criticize a reputable university, even it is Harvard.
Bring Your B.S. Detector
We also make sure our kids talk to actual students when they are on campus to get a legitimate sense of how they feel about being there. So, in addition to going to the info session and attending a tour, we encourage you to try and get a sense of what campus is actually like. The school is going to sell you their own version of the full package, but you should be aware that this is basically propaganda.
One of our writers was a tour guide in college. She was taught to really sell up the state of the art gymnasium to prospective tourists. The massive structure housed five floors of equipment, an Olympic-sized pool, classes, ping pong tables, and a smoothie bar and sat atop one of the nation’s only cadaver labs for pre-med students. Although she talked about how fabulous the gym was, in actuality, our writer went to the gym about four times in her college career and the smoothies were garbage. Also, you're not applying to a college for the gym. While the tour was insightful for most people visiting, a prospective student probably would not have gotten the full-picture without walking around and asking other students about campus life who weren’t being paid by the university to present a pre-rehearsed speech.
Tear off the Test Prep Band-Aid
Spring break of your sophomore year is also a great time to make a testing schedule and get ahead of it. Our goal is for our kids to take the SAT or ACT for a second time in December of their junior years. Some people reading this post might think that’s a little intense. You’re going to have to take those tests one day or another. You will be a lot happier with yourself if you just get it over with now.
Need help generating a college list? Contact us. We are great at matching students with universities that are right for them.