1. A foreign languageNot all high schools require their students to study foreign language for more than a year, but doing so is a wise choice. Taking a foreign language class in your sophomore year will provide you with the background and practice that you’ll need to enroll in an advanced foreign language course during your junior year – for example, an AP, IB, honors, or dual-credit selection. Knowledge of a foreign language can also help you on the verbal sections of the ACT or SAT, as many root words hail from other countries.
2. An honors courseThough most high schools typically offer honors-level classes beginning in freshman year, it is never too late to enroll in such a course. If you are not already on an honors-level track in at least one core subject (such as English or math), consider adding one as a sophomore. Like other high school classes, honors courses increase in depth and difficulty with each passing year. Thus, several years of honors instruction in a given subject can expose you to additional content in the field, as well as set your college applications apart from others’.
3. An AP courseIn your junior year of high school, you’ll likely have more homework, more difficult tests, and more studying to attend to. If your school allows sophomores to take AP classes, sign up for a course in a subject that interests you (and that you excel in). Because AP classes are more challenging than traditional high school courses, taking one during your sophomore year is a great way to prepare for the rigors of junior year. Completing an AP class as a sophomore can also ready you for any AP courses you choose to take as a junior. By fall of your junior year, you will be a near-expert in AP curriculum!
4. An elective in the artsMost high schools require students to take at least one arts elective over the course of their high school careers (such as creative writing, music, or sculpture). It can be helpful to complete this requirement during your sophomore year, as doing so will open your junior-year schedule to those classes that can strengthen your college application, including electives in your prospective major. Taking an arts elective can also support your performance in core academic subjects, as fields like math and music are often linked in unexpected, intriguing ways!
Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a technology platform for private academic tutoring and test prep designed to help students at all levels of education achieve academic excellence.