71 Valuable College Prep Resources for Every High School Student

Monday, May 23, 2022

college prep resources for high school sophomores.jpg71 Valuable College Prep Resources for Every Level of High School

College Prep Resources for Freshmen Year

All the focus might be on seniors right now, but this is actually the perfect time for high school freshmen to start thinking about their college goals – even if they seem really far off.

Colleges look at all four years of courses, grades, activities, and more when evaluating college applications. It’s not just junior and senior year that colleges care about. They want to see how students have progressed over their time in high school, and if they’re truly ready for the rigors of a college education. This is why college preparation for high school students should start early.

While no one expects high school freshmen to have their “dream college” and major picked out, it is helpful to start thinking about college now in broader terms. What do you think about a college education? Is that an important goal for you? Is your academic performance a priority? What do you need to do now to make sure your grades are solid and improving? These are the type of “college prep” questions that freshmen can think about now, without causing too much anxiety or pushing too much college talk too soon.

Starting College Prep Early

Why should you start college prep freshman year of high school? There are a number of reasons why – mainly that colleges will look at your freshman year records. But also because preparing for and applying to college is a journey to learning more about yourself, your interests, and using that information to ultimately form your college goals. Here are some resources to get you started and highlight why it’s important to start exploring college options now.

Exploring Interests

One of the first things you’ll do, no matter what grade you’re in, when preparing for college is to really try to figure out what you like. Do you love science? Or are you more of an art student? What interests you? How do you know what interests you? Figuring out what you enjoy and how that factors into your college plans in the future is something you can easily start as soon as you get into high school.

Outside Reading

As shown above, outside reading is a great way to explore your interests and get involved with activities that you like. It’s also a great way to learn, expand your vocabulary, and improve your writing. Outside reading is the easiest college prep that students can start with and build upon as move through high school.


As mentioned before, colleges care about your academic performance during all four years of high school. It’s great for students to establish a strong academic foundation with good grades freshman year, but students can often have a hard time adjusting to a high school curriculum at first – and that’s okay! Freshmen can start their college prep by just watching their grades, asking for help, and making sure they take a challenging course load sophomore year.

Getting started on college prep during freshman year of high school doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. As long as students are exploring their interests, working hard in class, and thinking about what goals they may have for the future, they’ll be on the right track to a successful college prep journey as they move into sophomore, junior, and senior year.

College Prep Resources to Help Sophomores Get Started With College Planning

Junior year is right around the corner, so now is the perfect time for high school sophomores to start thinking about their college plans and what they need to do now in order to prepare for the admissions process.

It might seem a little early to some to start planning for college sophomore year of high school, but the truth is colleges will look at all four years of grades, courses, activities, and more when evaluating college applications. Sophomores only have one more semester before their college prep really picks up the junior year, so now is the time to take those first steps toward developing a solid college prep plan.

There are a number of things that sophomores can do now to prepare, that are simple and won’t cause too much college prep stress too early. By taking these small steps, sophomores can get ahead of the college prep anxiety that can build up going into junior year.

Here are 16 college prep resources to help high school sophomores prepare for the college admissions process.

Choosing Courses

Are you taking the right classes? The most important thing that colleges look at when evaluating applicants is the transcript. They want to see students taking challenging courses in their areas of interest, and performing well in them. Now is the time to look at the classes you’re taking and make adjustments if possible, especially as you start choosing classes for junior year.

If you’re interested in STEM, plan to take whatever science and math classes are available to you, including honors, AP, and IB courses.

This is a critical time to make sure you’re on the right track academically, as colleges will look at all four years of classes and grades.

Juaquin on why you should consider your curriculum and interests from IvyWise on Vimeo

Exploring Your Interests

Hopefully, you started exploring some areas of interest freshman year, but if not, now is the time to get serious about focusing and developing your interests. Try out some classes, clubs, or activities that are related to an area of study you want to learn more about. Read books and other publications that cover that area of interest.

Dr. Kat on how IvyWise helps students identify core Interests from IvyWise on Vimeo


Quality is valued over quantity when it comes to extracurricular activities, so as you’re exploring your interests, evaluate other activities you’re doing. What activities are you currently involved in that you enjoy? Which activities do you not enjoy? Start cutting out the clubs and activities that you’re not particularly passionate about, especially if it’s something you picked up because you thought it would “look good” on your college application. The truth is, colleges want to see students involved in extracurriculars they like and are making an impact in – not activities that you picked up to look impressive. They can see through it.

Summer Experiences

In addition to how you spend your time outside of the classroom during the school year, colleges will also look at how you spent your summer. Now is the time to start thinking about your summer plans. Will you have a job? Will you find an internship? Maybe you want to try a university-sponsored summer program. Start exploring your options now. Research summer programs that match your interests. Reach out to people in your community that have jobs related to your interests. Do they have any internship opportunities available? Planning a productive summer will not only help you stand out when applying to college but it will also help you better focus your interests so you can set clear goals for the next school year.

There are a number of things that high school sophomores can be doing now to prepare for the college admissions process. Simple steps like evaluating your courses, activities, and summer plans can set you on the right path toward your college plans well ahead of time.

College Prep Resources to Get the Most Out of Your Junior Year

The college application process is right around the corner for high school juniors, and we have a number of resources to help college-bound juniors get and stay on track before they apply to college in the fall.

For juniors, the college admissions process is already revving up, with the release of the Common Application essay prompts of 2021. It’s important for high school juniors to take their college preparation seriously, while also working to maintain good grades and participation in extracurricular activities.

Here are 31 college prep resources for high school juniors to help guide college-bound students into the college admissions process this fall.

Building Your College List

One of the most important things that you will do when preparing for college is building a balanced college list of “likely,” “target,” and “reach” colleges to which to apply. This requires a lot of thought about your goals and needs, research, and consulting with your college counselor.

Visiting Colleges

As part of researching colleges in order to build a balanced college list, high school juniors should also be visiting the colleges they’re interested in. Not only will this allow students to learn more about the college and whether or not it’s a good fit, but it can also help with demonstrated interest.

Selecting Teachers for Recommendation Letters

Now’s the time to start thinking about which teachers you want to approach in order to request recommendation letters. It’s important to ask teachers early, as they will likely be receiving a lot of requests for recommendations, and waiting until the last minute will put unnecessary stress on you and your recommender.

Staying Informed

The college admissions process is always changing, whether it’s application changes, new applications, testing, or just what exactly colleges are looking for. It’s important to keep up with the latest college admissions news and developments.

Starting College Apps Over the Summer

The Common Application has already released the essay prompts for 2021, and many colleges tend to release their own supplemental essay prompts over the summer. This gives rising high school seniors the opportunity to get a head start on their college application essays over the summer break.

College Prep Resources for Seniors

The college admissions season is officially underway, and there’s a lot that high school seniors need to do between now and application deadlines on Jan. 1. The college application process can be confusing, but there are a number of online resources that can help students and parents navigate the process this fall.

There’s a lot of information out there about the US admissions process, including what to expect when applying and how to navigate the Common App or the Coalition Application. What students and parents have to be mindful of, however, is how reliable those resources are. It’s important when learning about the college admissions process to investigate your sources in order to ensure that you’re getting the most recent and accurate information available. Luckily, we’re here to share with you a few of our favorite online college admissions resources for seniors.

Here are a few online resources that can help you make the most of your college admissions experience this fall.

The College Board

The College Board is responsible for developing and administering the PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP courses and exams, so it’s very likely that you’ll encounter one or more of the College Board’s resources throughout high school. In addition to study materials for all of the exams mentioned above, the College Board also offers free college search tools to help you research schools in order to build a balanced college list.

College Navigator

Another great college research tool is the College Navigator. This resource is managed by the Department of Education and includes data and statistics provided directly by colleges and universities in the US. Students can research information on admissions statistics, average financial aid, average test scores of admitted students, and more all in one place.

Khan Academy

Grades and test scores are the important factors that colleges consider when evaluating college applications, so it’s important for students to take advantage of academic and test prep resources – especially free ones. Khan Academy offers free SAT test prep resources, as well as lessons for subjects like math, science, US history, computer programming, and more.

US News & World Report

US News & World Report is known for its college rankings, however, the publication also has a wealth of articles about the admissions process that can be informative for students applying to college this fall. While we never advise students to make college decisions based on rankings lists, the data compiled to calculate the rankings can be useful. US News also frequently interviews admissions experts, including those at IvyWise, to bring the latest advice and news to readers.

Need more help with your college planning? Learn the benefits of working with a college counselor throughout the admission process.

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