Sophomore year: Exploring what high school has to offer
by Becky Gillette
Published: October 30,2009
Being a sophomore sometimes means being low man on the totem pole. But it is also a time when most of your high school career is ahead of you and can be made into whatever you want.
“The sophomore year, I believe, is more enjoyable than the freshman year because students are already used to the way high school works,” said Isabel Gray, a junior at Tupelo High School. “At the same time, the sophomore year is exciting because students are exploring new classes and electives, and really beginning to experience what the high school has to offer.”
She recalls the best part of being a sophomore was the opportunity to explore a variety of classes on different levels. For college-bound students, taking pre-AP classes gives them the chance to prepare themselves for the more rigorous courses they will be taking in the future.
The hardest part about the sophomore year is the increase in the workload.
“The change from the freshman year took a while to get used to,” Gray said. “Assignments usually required more thought, time and effort. Also, there was just more work assigned in general.”
She recommends sophomores consider opportunities to begin taking college entrance tests such as the ACT, PSAT and SAT.
“Practice in these areas will pay off during a student’s junior or senior year when colleges really start looking at test scores,” Gray said. “Also, the sophomore year is the perfect time to begin looking at different colleges and exploring what they have to offer. Then, by the time students have reached their junior year, they have a general idea of what they are looking for in a college.”
Taking rigorous classes as a sophomore can help prepare college bound students for AP classes they might take their junior and senior year. Signing up for a variety of electives is also a good idea.
“It gives students an opportunity to explore a plethora of activities that could contribute to shaping their future,” Gray said. “Keeping up with assignments, turning homework in on time and studying are all very important to the success of any school year.”
Manessa Hadley, sophomore counselor, Tupelo High School, enjoys helping students take any steps necessary to make positive changes in their lives.
“Having grown up in a dysfunctional family, I was able to take all of the negatives in my life and turn them into positive situations,” Hadley said. “Therefore, I think that it is absolutely wonderful to be able to have a job where I am able to help people who might be accustomed to giving up when confronted by challenges.”
The most important goal for any age student is to stay in school. Students need to understand that the positive impact of an education follows them throughout their lives.
Hadley encourages sophomores to start thinking about their career interests, skills, plans and goals for after high school.
“Whenever a student walks into my office, I take every opportunity to ask them about their career goals,” she said. “Finding out about a student’s goals helps me to better understand where each individual student is in life.”
Hadley also asks students whether or not they have plans for college. At Tupelo High School, the PLAN test is given each year to sophomore students. The PLAN test is a powerful predictor of success on the ACT college entrance examination. It is also very important because it focuses attention on both career preparation and improving academic achievement.
Tupelo High School also has a Career/Resource Center on campus. Students are allowed to work through an on-line program called Choices to help them explore career choices. Colleges constantly send updated material to the Career Center so that students can view many opportunities they may not have previously known about. The Resource Center provides tutoring for students to help them keep their grades up so that they can graduate and be successful.
Sophomores should also feel free to talk to counselors as major decisions about life after high school can be stressful.
“Some students may just need an outlet to talk or vent,” Hadley said. “Sometimes the counseling office may be intimidating to them. I am a firm believer that counseling is not just sitting in an office behind a desk. In order to make the most of being a sophomore counselor, I must be involved in activities and fun projects with them. Then, whenever a problem arises, the relationship has already been established and therefore the student will feel comfortable and at ease when they need to vent negative feelings and explore effective ways to deal with negative feelings or even explore career options.”
By BECKY GILLETTE I contributor
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