High School Road Map for Sophomores and Juniors

Fact: the most successful high school students have a road map that takes them from the beginning of freshman year through high school graduation. 


During freshman year, students tend to know where they need to go but don’t yet know the best route to take. Sophomore and junior years are for building off of that initial knowledge about what comes next and working to gradually envision what the route will look like. 


A big driver of success in the college admissions process ahead is focusing on the right things at the right time, which is why we encourage parents to sit with their students and reflect on key questions that will help shape their middle years of high school. 


7 Reflection Questions for Sophomores and Juniors


Have your student answer these questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible. Their answers will help drive their road maps for their sophomore and junior years. 

1. What are you passionate about? What do you want to do with your life? Has this changed from last year?

It’s important for students to take stock of how they envision their future at multiple different touchpoints during the high school journey. Teenagers undergo significant developmental changes from freshman through junior year, and it’s not uncommon for their passions, interests, and dreams to evolve. 


2. What do you enjoy doing outside the classroom? Has this changed from last year?

Typically, students begin exploring activities (i.e., extracurriculars) they might enjoy in 7th-9th grade so that by sophomore year, they’ve identified 2-3 areas on which to focus their attention. From a college admissions standpoint, extracurriculars demonstrate that a student is highly engaged, has interests outside the classroom, and excels in time management, teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and discipline. 


3. What are your goals for this year? Did you accomplish the goals you set last year? Why or why not?

Establishing goals for each year (and holding oneself accountable for achieving the previous year’s goals) helps students stay on track throughout high school and prepares them for college. Once students have a clear idea of their goals, they can begin developing a plan for achieving them.


4. What kind of relationships do you want to build? Has this changed from last year? Who is your favorite and least favorite teacher, and why? 

While academics and extracurriculars are important parts of a student’s high school experience, their social life is just as essential. Students should dedicate time and energy to building relationships with their peers, coaches, teachers, and fellow community members. Additionally, now is the time to begin thinking about which teachers they might want to write their college recommendations


5. What classes do you need to take? What are your favorite and least favorite classes? 

GPA isn’t the only factor college admissions officers weigh when they look at a student’s classes. Course rigor is another consideration that is often overlooked, so students need to think hard about the difficulty of their curriculum. Students who enjoy and excel at math, for example, may want to think about taking an AP math class. 


6. What tests do you need to take?

Yes, we’re talking about the SAT and ACT. We advise students to plan for two test sittings their junior year—ideally, one in the late fall/winter and one in the early spring. And we highly recommend taking diagnostic tests first to determine which test to focus on (spoiler alert: colleges don’t have a preference for one over the other) or whether to test at all. 


7. What size and type of college do you imagine yourself attending? Has this changed from last year? 

While it may be too early for some students to build an actual college list, they can certainly get started with some preliminary steps, such as reflecting on college preferences and needs and researching schools. Signet’s Personal College Inventory is a great jumping-off point!


Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

The road ahead may seem arduous, but just as Google Maps makes a long car ride to an unknown destination feel more manageable, a high school road map should bring relief, not extra stress.  


At Signet, we’re big proponents of the “plan your work, work your plan” methodology, which can be applied to everything from managing homework deadlines to tackling significant endeavors like preparing for college admissions. 


First, plan your work: what do you hope to accomplish in the coming year? Next, work your plan: after determining your priorities and sequencing what comes next, do the work according to the order you’ve laid out. 

If you would like support navigating high school and the college admissions process, we encourage you to reach out. Signet’s unique Pathfinder approach is designed to guide students along their road map with an eye toward college admissions. Schedule a free call today!

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