Tips On Preparing for College as a Freshman and Sophomore in High School

Emily DeMotte, Travel Editor

Once you have entered high school, it is likely that the last thing on your mind is college. It’s a whole four years away right? True, but it is actually more beneficial than you might think to start thinking about and preparing for when that day comes in your first two years as a freshman and sophomore. Whether you know you want to go to college, are still considering it, or don’t know at all, starting early can help you to feel less overwhelmed in your junior and senior years when you will likely be taking the SAT and ACT exams and beginning the application process. Here are a few things to consider doing as you adjust and make your way through high school.


Start researching

Beginning the college research process early on can be highly beneficial in helping you feel more prepared for your junior and senior years. There are multiple ways to go about researching for college, but helpful tools are online college search services such as the one available on the college board website. Through these services, you can filter what you think you might want from a college or university, such as location, selectivity, available majors, financial aid, and more. If you know what you might want to major in, you can find top ranked universities for that field through these tools as well. If you aren’t sure yet, it may be helpful to take an online career aptitude test to see which career type might be best for you, but there is still plenty of time to figure out your plan. 


Take the PSAT

In your junior year, it is probable that you will take the SAT exam, which is an important piece of your college application for many schools. In preparation for that, it might be helpful to consider taking the PSAT (Preliminary SAT). While this year’s exam has already passed, you can still take free online practice exams and plan to register for next year’s testing day. Your freshman and sophomore year, taking the PSAT is only optional practice and your score won’t matter or be used for anything, but it is a good tool to know where you stand on the college readiness scale. Improving your score from year to year can help you to receive scholarships and potentially qualify for being named a National Merit Scholar in your junior year. Your score report will include statistics such as your score percentile based on grade level, whether you are on track for being prepared for college, and what AP courses might best suit you.


Get involved

Building your resume is an important thing to keep in mind as you make your way through high school. Colleges search for applicants who show that they are active participants and leaders, and having a diverse resume can make you stand out to admissions officers. Joining clubs and organizations, engaging in extracurricular activities, getting a job, and volunteering in your community are all examples of ways to strengthen your resume for your college applications. If you are interested in joining a club at iUniversity prep, check out the Virtual Vine or contact your pride teacher for more information.  Even beyond building your resume, participating in these activities can help you to grow and learn important skills that you can utilize not only in college but in the real world as well. 


Challenge yourself

Taking and excelling in challenging courses such as Honors and AP can both show colleges that you are committed to pushing yourself to reach your potential, and give you a taste of what college level courses may be like. Additionally, succeeding in these courses will boost your GPA, which is important as unlike elementary and middle school, all grades earned in high school level courses will be recorded on your high school transcript and sent to colleges in your senior year when you apply. Most importantly, colleges look for improvement throughout these four years. They don’t necessarily expect your grades to be perfect from your first semester of your freshman year on, what counts most is that you are putting in the work to improve your grades from year to year. 


While college probably won’t and shouldn’t be the first thing on your mind right now, it is not a bad idea to consider working on and applying these four tips throughout your freshman and sophomore years of high school. Remember to reach out to your pride teacher or iUP’s school counselor Ms. Miller if you have any questions about planning and preparing for college!  



A Complete College Prep Checklist: High School Freshman and Sophomore Year. (2018, June 14). Retrieved from