Top Seven Tips On How to Start Planning for College In 10th Grade

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It’s never too early to start planning for college. Our guide to college planning for 10th graders provides you with an essential checklist needed to start navigating the college process early on, so you have your best shot at reaching your college goals.

  1. Set Goals for Sophomore Year. Make sure to set both long term and short term academic, social and personal goals for the school year. Set up an effective study routine for yourself. Do take time out for rest and relaxation. Learn to advocate for yourself and reach out to teachers if you need help.
  2. Take Rigorous Courses in Areas of Interest. The IECA 2020 nationwide survey on what colleges look for in high school students reports rigor of coursework and GPA as the top two factors for college admissions. Make sure to take AP/IB courses that challenge you in subjects that genuinely reflect your interests. Take Subject SAT and AP exams in subjects that are of interest to you and showcase your strengths. Choose electives that highlight academic interests. Balance your priorities for strong grades vs academic rigor, while keeping in mind academic commitments.
  3. Narrow Down your extracurricular profile by committing to a couple of activities based on your interest and personality. Advance or gain leadership positions in activities already started. Start planning your job or volunteer work for the summer to deep dive into your interests. Make sure to do something different from your classmates that helps you stand out.
  4. Start researching the different types of colleges. Look at the differences between private and public universities. Start by visiting college campuses in your area that include liberal arts colleges, universities, technical/professional schools and community colleges. Take notes on what are some of the things you like and don’t like about each of them. This way you will learn more about what you are looking for in a college.
  5. Keep up your grades Sophomore year grades matter and are looked at by colleges while making college admission decisions. GPA is considered one of the top two factors for college admissions! Also, doing exceptionally well academically increases your chances of receiving merit aid.
  6. Start Standardized Test Prep. Practice taking the PSAT/Pre-ACT. Take a practice SAT and ACT test to see which one is more suitable for you. You can plan on taking the actual test Junior Year.
  7. Start saving for college Consider investing in a 529 Educational Saving Plan. There are tax benefits to this pre-paid tuition plan and every dollar you save is a dollar less you’ll need to borrow.


Need more help with college planning? As always, feel free to reach out to me via e-mail or call me 650-596-9583 to set up a FREE 45 min initial consultation for Free initial 1-on-1 consultation here. I am here to support you and your family through the college admissions process.