Below is a list of guidelines for you to follow your sophmore year that will help you prepare for the future.

  • Beware of scholarship search and financial aid service organizations that charge a fee. Check with your high school counselor or search for free at You can also search for free on
  • Get involved. Find an activity at your school or in your community that you enjoy. Keep records of these activities as well as records of volunteer work.
  • Stay organized by using a planner
  • Attend college fairs in your area and meet with college representatives who visit your high school.
  • Go to the Golden Circle College Fair on Sunday, September 28, 2014 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. at the Iowa Events Center- Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, IA. It's the largest college fair in Iowa- approximately 140 colleges attend
  • Consider taking the PLAN (a pre-ACT test) or the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarhip Qualifying Test) as practice for the actual college entrance exams.
  • Keep your grades up. Colleges look at the grades you've earned each year.
  • Talk with your parents about your college and career goals and what it will take to attain them.
  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.
  • Have you attended a college fair yet? You can find a list of college fairs in Iowa at
  • Find a mentor who can assist you through high school as well as the college search process, such as a teacher, parent, family member, or family friend.
  • Visit for information on tuition and other fees at colleges and universities in Iowa.
  • Talk to family members, friends, teachers, counselors, and coaches about their college experiences.
  • Continue to keep a record of your extracurricular invovlement in an activities portfolio- a concise summary of your achievements, talents and interests.
  • Visit Hawkeye Community College with your school counselor to tour the campus and take the COMPASS tests. These tests are required for admission into many PSEO and contracted courses.


  • College can be affordable. Through financial aid, most colleges help ensure your out-of-pocket costs are manageable.
  • Talk to your school counselor about college admission requirements so you're taking the right classes.
  • Education after high school deosn't have to include a four-year degree. There are certificate programs, two-year degrees and other programs. Find out more at


  • Become familiar with the types of financial aid available for college. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. Grants and scholarships don't have to be paid back. Work-study enables students to earn money by working part-time on campus. Loans must be repaid.
  • What subjects do you like in school? Choices, the state's designated career-management system, can help you search for careers related to those subjects. For access to Choices, visit the school counselor.


  • Begin thinking about college majors. Are there majors that match your skills and interests? Choices is an online program that can help you research college majors. For access to Choices, visit your school counselor.
  • Saving money is the best way to prepare for the cost of a college education. Check out www.ICANsucceed,org for information on college savings plans.
  • If you're an athlete hoping to play sports in college, it's important to plan ahead. Find out what the academic requirements are in order to participate at


  • Visit for a list of Iowa college fairs taking place this spring.
  • Do you know someone who works in a job related to your career interest? Interview them to find out about the educational requirements and what they like most about their work.
  • Are you getting a summer job? If so, plan to save some of what you earn for college.
  • If your family is planning a summer vacation, try to visit a few college campuses along the way.


  • Meet with your school counselor to make sure you're scheduling classes for your junior year that meet college admission requirements. Some courses DON'T COUNT towards admission requirements for specific colleges.
  • Get a taste of a future career through job shadowing, volunteer work or a summer internship. Keep records of these experiences.
  • Participate in hobbies and activities that enable you to explore your career interests.


  • Check with your school counselor to see if there are AP classes that will fit into your schedule. Also, check into contracted courses and PSEO classes. Challenging courses in high school can better prepare you for college.
  • As your school counselor if there are any summer camp programs you could attend to help you get ahead.
  • Look for a summer job that's related to your interests. Be sure to save some of your summer earnings for college.


  • Compare serveral careers. Consider the required education or training, tasks that have to be performed and starting salary, and the characteristics that appeal to you most. Visit for links to career research tools.
  • Start a summer reading list. Try reading books that will help increase your vocabulary.
  • Have a great summer!!


  • Are you attending summer camp on a college campus? If so, take a look around and see if it's a school you could imagine attending.
  • If you're working this summer, set aside your earnings for college.
  • Stay in touch with teachers, school counselors, coaches, and community members. You may need to ask them to write a letter of recommendation for your scholarship and/or college admission applications.