Spring College Choice Tips for Parents of High School Sophomores

Published by Wendy Nelson on

College Campus Image 5Last week, I gave Spring College Choice Tips for Parents of High School Juniors.  This week, I am focusing on college choice tips for parents of high school sophomores.

High School Sophomores

If you have a sophomore, now is the time to start the college search process.  I am right there with you.  My second daughter is a sophomore and we are just starting to think about building a college search list.  Here are some great resources to get you started in the right direction.

  • Starting the college search – Read Starting the College Search and Organize Your College Search.  Use my free College Search Spreadsheet to keep track of potential schools.  For my own daughter, I have started a list of schools for her to check out and have added schools she thinks she is interested in.  I have established the rule that we are not going to consider schools that are completely out of her budget.  From my experience with my oldest daughter, I found that it is much easier to cut a school out at the beginning of the process than after your child has visited it and has fallen in love with it!
  • College Visits – To stay ahead of the curve, it’s best to start visits spring of sophomore year or soon after.  Summer visits give you a good look at campuses, but don’t provide the full “feel” of a campus when it is bustling with students.  They still may work for an initial screening though.  Read my posts on College Visits and check out this two-part series on campus visits on the DIY College Rankings website.  My daughter’s high school takes all sophomores on a college visit in April.  They offer three different colleges to visit and the students get to pick the one they want to go to.  It is most helpful for kids who have never been on a campus before.  My daughter tagged along on several of her older sister’s college visits so she has already ruled out a number of schools.  We are planning our first official college visit for her at the end of May.
  • ACT/SAT Test Preparation – I wrote an article for rising high school juniors about preparing for the ACT.  In my area, almost everyone takes the ACT exclusively.  SAT preparation is similar and the test content is currently undergoing a change.  It used to be said that different students would do better on one test or the other, but we will see what the new SAT format brings in 2016.
  • Paying for College – Start getting an idea of what colleges will expect you to pay out of pocket.  The best ways to do this are to run the FAFSA4Caster and look at Net Price Calculators on school websites.  Depending on your ability to pay for college, research schools that provide great merit scholarships and/or research schools that provide great need-based financial aid.  Read Finding the Best Deals on Colleges.

As a parent of a high school sophomore, you have plenty of time to help your student make the best choice for college.  A little preparation now will go a long way towards keeping the process on track and running smoothly junior and senior years.


E.S. Ivy · May 23, 2014 at 11:58 pm

We have a summer visit schedule for our sophomore and we thought we were way ahead of the game! We tried for a spring visit but couldn’t fit one in until now, and all the colleges and universities around here are already out for the summer.

Things have certainly changed since my husband and I went through this process ourselves.

    Wendy Nelson · May 24, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I still think summer visits can be helpful for judging the overall campus, but if it is a school that your child may be interested in based on the initial visit, a second visit during the school year will be important.

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