Setting Yourself Up for College Search Success as a Sophomore and Junior


We’ve all heard it—senior year can be nerve-wracking. Don’t fear; there are many ways you can set yourself up for success instead of stress by the time you reach your senior year. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your sophomore and junior years so you’re prepared to smoothly sail into a worry-free, productive final year of high school.

Define your drive. What do you want from your future college home? Start sorting through all of your options: large vs. small institutions, rural vs. urban setting, research vs. liberal arts, and so on. As you start to think about your upcoming search, it’s important to determine your “drivers,” or the criteria that is important to you.

So, how do you begin to narrow down all of the options? It’s time to do some research: many students turn to online resources, such as The College Board’s “Big Future” website, to help tailor their search. Looking through specific universities’ admissions websites and joining their mailing lists are more examples of productive college-search-research.

Speaking of which, are you on the Hopkins mailing list? Sign up to receive invitations and other communications from admissions.

Seek guidance._JHU4275 If your school has a college counseling office, it can be a very useful resource to find out more about some of the institutions you researched or to learn about others not yet on your radar. Use your high school counselor’s expertise! He or she can help you with the process and answer questions along the way.

Get organized. Completing applications effectively and efficiently requires lots of organization. As you start thinking about applications, take some mental notes (or real notes!) on future deadlines and timelines. Here are some things you will want to keep in mind:

  • Dates and locations of standardized tests
  • Application submission deadlines & requirements
  • Interview policies (if applicable)

Go visit. Take some time (especially over summer and holiday breaks) to visit the institutions that you’re most interested in. However, it’s no problem if you’re unable to visit. Many universities also offer special programs and resources, such as off-campus events, information sessions, and blogs where you can still learn about the university from those who know it best—admission counselors and current students.

Be you! Making the most of your high school years is part of what makes a strong application. Maximizing academic opportunities offered at your school, as well as other enrichment or extracurricular opportunities around you, will help add substance to your application. Use your time in high school gaining meaningful experiences that best represent you and that you believe will help you succeed in your future college career.

Why start now? Keep in mind that your college timeline is tailored to your individual drivers and may be different from your friends and peers. Starting the process early will help ensure that you are making well-informed, personal decisions that will help you feel confident throughout your college search and the application process.