Sophomore College Guidance

This week I am visiting Sophomore classrooms. One of my favorite things to do as a College Counselor is present in classrooms. I love the energy and the interaction with students and today’s start was a good confirmation of why I love it.

Sophomore College Guidance

  • Goal of lesson – to increase awareness of college requirements, timelines and post-secondary options and to help students understand what they can being doing now to prepare

Post-secondary options (4 year, 2 year, institute/consortium, trade school, military, gap year, work, etc.): Today’s lesson plan went further in-depth into the requirements for a 4-year college or university, but we discussed all options for students.

College Entrance Requirements: What Colleges are Looking for? 

  • Subject (A-G) coursework (discussed not only completing minimum requirements, but exceeding in coursework you are interested in, if you are doing well in courses, try adding an AP or Honors next year)
  • Standardized tests (SAT/ACT, subject tests)
  • Extracurricular activities (job, volunteer work, community service, school related activities, internships)
  • Essay or personal statement (a chance for the student to show their unique personality, who they are beyond the transcript and coursework)
  • Interview and/or portfolio or audition (Visual/Performing Arts majors may require additional auditions, helpful to be organized and know deadlines ahead of time!)
  • Recommendation letters (Come from your teachers mostly, discussed importance of asking for help or clarity when content gets tough, participating and being present in the classroom, helping others)

All of these components compile a holistic review of the student when being considered in a college application.

GPA Game Students were given cards with various GPAs on them ranging from 4.0 – 2.3. As I called out prompts, if the student had the prompt on the back of the card they would either move up or down. The goal of this exercise really was to show students that some factors may be out of their control AND all that goes into admissions in addition to the GPAs. Here are a few examples of the prompts:

  • If you attended an enriching summer program between your Junior and Senior year, move up two spaces
  • If you decided to protect your GPA by not taking AP classes offered at your school, move down two spaces.
  • If you never continued an extracurricular activity for more than one year, move down one space.
  • If you have participated in community service projects, move up one space

Balancing classes and earning good grades, with exploring actual interests outside of the classroom is a positive.

Draw Your Own College I asked students to take out a blank piece of paper and explained that they were going to draw their very own college. I would provide the prompts and they would start to draw. Here are the prompts:

  1. Draw a student center and a couple classrooms
    1. Your student center is the hub of your campus, what does it have?
    2. Does it have a game room, ping-pong tables?
    3. Is it a quiet place to study, is there a coffee shop?
    4. What kind of classrooms do you have? Are they all arts-performance based?
    5. Do you have general education classes as well? Or do you have classrooms that are interdisciplinary (meaning you can learn about multiple areas that overlap and have choices over the classes you want, example studying humanities, sociology integrated with biology, environmental studies).
    6. How many students are in your classes (20? 100?)
  2. Draw the environment around your classrooms.
    1. Are there a lot of trees? If so what kind…pine, palm, cactus
    2. Are there mountains?
    3. If you are in a city, draw buildings
    4. If you are in a quieter setting, but still want to have access to a city, draw a shuttle bus.
    5. Or do you want total seclusion, where it’s just the college campus and nature around you.
    6. Is there Greek row? Fraternity/sorority housing? Draw that
    7. If there is a specific club or activity you have to have on your campus, write it down.
    8. How many students are walking around?
      1. MHS has about 1,000 students. A small school with 3,000 students will still be bigger than here!
    9. When you get out of class what do you do?
      1. Head to a coffee shop and study?
      2. Meet friends for the football game?
      3. Head to a local spot to play music?

There are many types of colleges (conservatories, traditional, liberal arts). Think about what’s important to you. Colleges want you and there are many options!

The more students have time for self-exploration, reflecting on values and subjects that capture their interest, the more they will have time to explore programs and campuses that relate!


Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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