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Back to School Tips

Summer’s winding down. I don’t want to put a damper on your last weeks of freedom, but it’s time to start thinking about the impending school year. A little foresight and planning will make your year more successful and more relaxed. I’m leaving out those who are going to be entering their freshman year—and secondary school for the first time—because your job is just to become accustomed to high school and its demands.

Sophomores
You should plan to take some difficult classes, specifically in those subjects that appealed to you most during your freshman year. Sophomore year is mainly about exploring academic and extracurricular interests, and upping the difficulty of your courses.

Juniors
Junior year is often called the most difficult year of high school, and you should make sure that yours isn’t easy. Take as many AP or IB classes as you can. Start thinking about which AP exams you would like to take (or, rather, would prefer over others), and which SAT II exams you think you would do well on. Finally, you should look into the question of whether you’ll take the SAT or the ACT, and decide when to take your chosen test first. The spring of junior year is a popular time to take the SAT or the ACT, because this allows plenty of time for a second chance in the following fall.

Seniors
Seniors should have a firm list of schools to apply to, with a roadmap of dates and deadlines. You should have started your essays and should know whether you’re taking the SAT or ACT in the fall, whether for the first time or the second. Before the year starts, think about which teachers you might ask for recommendations. Then, go in and speak with each of them during the first weeks of school. Get an early start on the recommendation process, because you should speak with each of  your recommenders two or three times before they write their letters.