Preparing for College: Freshmen & Sophomores
You're probably still getting used to high school, but it's not too soon to start planning for college. Now is the time to make sure your admissions and scholarship applications stand out from the crowd.
Freshman Year of High School, grade 9
- Plan your courses wisely. Most colleges, including Illinois State, require more courses for admission than you need to graduate from high school. We require four years of English, four years of math, two years of science, two years of social studies, and two years of the same foreign language.
- Get involved at school. Extracurricular activities not only look good on your college applications, but also help you get scholarships. Plus, you'll learn something new, make friends and learn valuable time management skills.
- Find a mentor. Look for a trusted teacher, neighbor, or relative who went to college who can help guide you through the process.
- Talk about how you'll pay for college. Whether or not your family has been saving since the day you were born to send you to college, there's a way to finance your education. Start planning with information from Illinois State's Financial Aid Office.
Sophomore Year of High School, grade 10
- Volunteer your time. Besides improving your community and helping other people, volunteering allows you to learn new skills and explore different career paths. For example, if you think you might want to be a nurse, try volunteering at a hospital or nursing home. Also, volunteering looks great on admissions and scholarship applications.
- Challenge yourself in school. Select a strong, college-bound curriculum. Remember, while grades are important, colleges also consider the difficulty of courses you take. Sophomore year is a good time to start taking classes that appeal to your career interests such as a computer programming or business course.
- Keep a list of your achievements. You probably don't need a formal resume yet, but you should be keeping track of:
- the clubs, sports, and activities in which you participate;
- your volunteer work;
- part-time jobs; and
- any awards and honors you receive.
Find out how to continue preparing for college during junior and senior years.