4 Hot Tips To Make the Most of 10th Grade

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1569254267795{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]As the parent of a 10th grader, you may recall the heartaches of this awkward year of high school and how challenging it can be. What can make this year awkward from a college-readiness standpoint is that your teen isn’t quite fully in the college admissions phase. To make the most of this year, here are four tips that I have learned over the years:

#1 – Develop Self-awareness

This is a great year for your teen to get in touch with who they are and what they want . . . not just being who their parents say they are or imitating their friends’ interests.

Developing self-awareness can be done through taking some initial inventories and interest surveys that can help with figuring out likes and dislikes. Your school counselor may have access to some really great tools that your teen can take. The key will be making sure that they review the results with their counselor and you should get a copy as well to discuss with your teen. Perhaps interpreting the results can lead your teen to consider certain careers or help with building their interpersonal skills, depending on the survey instrument taken.

#2 – Re-evaluate friend groups

This second tip may sound a bit harsh in some way, but 10th grade is a good time for your teen to really reassess their friend groups. When I say reassess friend groups, it’s really about your teen thinking about who is a friend and who is not a friend. And if it’s someone that’s really not a good friend to them, then it’s okay to exit that relationship and not be in a place where they feel bad about themselves or unwanted.

I’ve seen a number of teens go through this experience and it’s been one that’s really been valuable for them in 10th grade. During 9th grade, they may have made some friends that weren’t the best choices. Because 11th grade will likely be a bit more intense, managing toxic relationships at school could be even more challenging. Sophomore year can be a good time to join a new group because it’s likely that there are some other classmates who are also open to new friendships.

#3 – Pursue interests

Your teen should consider pursuing what interests them . . . whether it’s a particular club at school or community service activity. The key is that whichever activity they pursue, make sure that it’s not about doing what their friends are doing or participating because mom/dad suggested. BTW, I understand that this may sound easier than it is in practice, especially if your teen does not want to be involved. A parent shared recently that they forced their teen to choose one club to join. Although I don’t recommend “forcing” a teen to do anything, you, the parent, would know best what will motivate your teen to take action.

What have you done when your teen has been reluctant to participate at school?

#4 – Spend summer wisely

Encourage your sophomore to spend their summer in a productive, intentional way.

For example, let’s say that your teen completes an interest inventory and the results show that they may be a fit for business. Then they could consider a summer internship, parrt-time job and/or countless summer business programs. These summer experiences could help them determine whether business really is an area that interest them. One of my students attended a summer business program after his sophomre year and realized that marketing interested him far more than finance. That’s an important distinction to make because business is such a broad field. (With an interest an marketing, then that could lead to getting involved with DECA during junior year.)

Whatever the experience your teen pursues during the summer, remember to be intentional about the summer and not just let the summer happen to your teen.

For more insights and tips for sophomore year, check out our 10th grade roadmap which includes specific month-by-month suggested actions, colleges worth considering and scholarships![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

4 ways high school sophomores can get ready for College

sophomores get ready for college

High school can be challenging at times—I know— I’ve been there, but it is an incredibly important period of time in your teen’s life that will help shape them into the kind of person they inspire to become. High school sophomores, in particular, have an opportunity to define their school year in a way that positions them to get into their top choice colleges and get money.

It’s a good time to start thinking about their college choices and taking action steps to prepare for life after high school. Here are three ways your teen can do just that:

  1. Consider Starting College Early

If your teen is ready to study at the college level while working towards a high school diploma, many local colleges offer programs just for your teen: sophomores who want to take one or two college classes a year while in high school.

In this type of program, sophomores can choose from a variety of classes while investigating their choice of major and experiencing the college environment -— and each course that is completed counts toward both high school and college credit.

*You should check with your teen’s guidance counselor to see if your high school offers these types of programs.

  1. Study for the PSAT

Taking the PSAT in 10th grade offers an advantage in that students are able to get acquainted with the format and determine their level of comfort with certain test questions. Not every school offers the PSAT to sophomores, although it’s standard for juniors to take it for National Merit Scholarship potential. If your teen’s high school doesn’t offer it, you may consider requesting it through the college or guidance counseling office.

Results from the PSAT may also predict your teen’s SAT scores. Depending on the projected SAT score, perhaps your teen can then focus on the SAT in their junior year testing plan.

  1. Learn about the college admissions process and research potential careers

Now is a great time for you and your teen to become familiar with general college entrance requirements. Colleges will consider transcripts, test scores, extra-curricular activities, and writing samples. If there is an area of concern, then now is a good time to get a tutor or get involved. Whatever your teen does decide to do, my biggest suggestion is that they do those things that interest them. For example, if they have an interest in music, get involved. If they are not interested in Student Council, then certainly don’t get involved in the Student Council just for the sake of college admissions. It’s not worth it!

To learn more about college and get additional resources, please encourage your teen to contact their guidance counselor as well, to find out what support is available at school.

Also, sophomore year is a good time for your teen to research potential careers and understand how much education and training they will need. Usually, guidance counselors may have career resources or state databases for students to access.

4. Apply to summer programs

There are a number of summer programs that high school sophomores may want to consider. Several programs are for sophomores only or may only accept students after sophomore year. These summer programs can have an academic or pre-professional focus. A number of them have an application process that’s similar to what colleges require, i.e. transcript, recommendations, essays. Applying to a summer program would give your sophomore an opportunity to see how strong their application is vis a vis other students in their class.

Certainly, if they’re admitted to a summer program then the experience could be informative for their plans even beyond high school.

In my roadmap for parents with sophomores, I share what parents must know as they guide their teen through courses, extra-curricular activities, and self-discovery. Be sure to sign up for this roadmap so I can partner with you to achieve the educational vision for your teen.

Should my teen study for the PSAT?

psat

Each fall, parents with 9th, 10th and 11th graders ask me about the PSAT and whether their teen should study for the PSAT. As with most things in college readiness, it depends.

Let’s start with a general description of the PSAT to make sure we’re all on the same page. It’s considered a preliminary SAT exam and students often take it to get an unofficial look at the SAT. “Unofficial” means that this test is “off the record” for college admissions purposes. It’s rare that students would submit these scores for consideration in college admissions.

PSAT for 9th graders
Most high schools do not offer the option for 9th graders to take the PSAT. Although I have seen it offered at several independent schools.

Typically, I do not recommend that students take the PSAT in 9th grade. It adds too much unnecessary pressure and anxiety. The 9th grade is such a transitional period that the year is better spent acclimating to the new school environment, making friends, and getting to know teachers.


PSAT for 10th graders
Taking the PSAT in 10th grade can be a good idea, if your high school offers that option. 10th graders who take the PSAT can get familiar with the format and determine their own level of comfort with the question types. The results would also closely project SAT scores.

In addition to the PSAT in sophomore year of high school, I would highly recommend that students also consider taking the pre-ACT. The pre-ACT is an unofficial preview of the ACT. Again, taking the pre-ACT would be an opportunity for sophomores to get familiar the ACT format and determine their level of comfort with the question types.

The results of the PSAT and pre-ACT can then be compared, using an SAT-ACT comparison tool to determine if a student should take the SAT or ACT in junior year. It’s a waste of time and money to take both tests, so I highly recommend that students stick with one test . . . either the SAT or ACT!

Sophomore year is an important year for students to discover their interests and further their academic preparation. Spending time to study for the PSAT or pre-ACT is not a good use of their time. Certainly, students may look at practice questions, if they like, but I would not suggest prioritizing PSAT and/or pre-ACT test prep over homework assignments and reading for pleasure.

PSAT for 11th graders
The majority of high schools in the US require that high school juniors take the PSAT. The PSAT is used in junior year as the qualifying exam for National Merit Scholarships. Even when students take the PSAT in junior year, they must still take the SAT or ACT to meet college admissions requirements.

I have recommended that my students study for the PSAT in only a few cases. When I recommended that my students study in junior year, they met these criteria:

1. Had taken the PSAT in sophomore year
2. Had scored in the 99%ile on the PSAT in sophomore year (Each state has their own National Merit Scholarship baseline so be sure to look it up for your state.)

Those students were in striking distance of qualifying for National Merit Scholarship so it made sense for them to study for the PSAT in advance. Their study plan often included completion of two or more practice tests before the test date and thorough reviews of reading, writing, and math.

Rule of thumb: Test prep should never take precedence over maintaining a strong transcript whether a student is 9th, 10th or 11th grader.

Please let me know your thoughts and/or comments on this topic.