Tenth Grade Begins College Search Process


For sophomores, the time is coming to start preparing for the college search and application process. This can be a stressful time once they get to junior year, so it is important to start early which is now for tenth graders. This is because doing college search while taking the demanding course load of junior year is challenging, so it’s good to get a head start. Many have already taken the PreSAT and the PreACT, which are helpful in picking which test they will take when it comes time.

On February 6th, most 10th graders took the PreACT. On March 13th, they took the PreSAT. As seniors, almost all of them will take one or the other of these, taking the Pre versions make it easier to identify which one to start preparing for. The ACT and SAT have lots of differences, including two math sections on the SAT and only one on the SAT, and an extra science section on the ACT.

Another way Hackley is preparing its students early is with assigning college counselors. Hackley has three counselors who have the grade split between them. This makes for a close relationship between counselors and students. Sophomores now have the opportunity to make a meeting with their counselor, where they can talk about ACT/SAT or course selection. Course selection is currently happening, which is important because 10th graders are picking junior year classes which play an important role in their eventual college application.

Jenny Leffler, sophomore dean, has cautions about course selection: “I worry about students setting up a schedule for themselves that’s very challenging,” she said.

She has these concerns because of how COVID has impacted classes this year, and when they hopefully get back to normal, the difficulty level will probably increase. She also has concerns about students picking courses that they think they should do because they would look better on a transcript, versus picking a class that a student is really passionate about.

“Slow down a little bit and think about what you are excited about and not where it’s going to leave you,”she counseled. This is good advice from a trusted source, especially because the current 10th graders have not had a fully normal year of high school.

A final bit of advice from Ms Leffler: “What you have been able to get from high school has been very different than normal and I don’t want you to wish that away and start thinking about college before you have had a change to dive into high school.”

Sophomore Sam Rotenberg says that he feels not too worried and pretty excited about starting the process. He took both the PreACT and SAT and he says that doing so “helps me to think of which one I am going to take in junior year and it makes me feel prepared.” This helps him not stress out too much, because he knows that he is in a good place. Another reason he isn’t too stressed is because he has been assigned a college counselor, who he knows he can go to with questions.

According to Rebecca Hall, a college counselor at Hackley,, “The mood is different based on the student and their purpose for meeting – most are often a bit nervous when they come speak to their counselor for the first time.”

It depends on the student, but many sophomores meet with their counselor to talk about classes and ACT/SAT. Ms. Hall says that several years ago Hackley switched college counselors from being assigned the fall of junior year to the winter of sophomore year.

“We did this not to start the search process earlier, but only to give a resource to students who needed it,” she said,“Advisors sometimes suggested that sophomores come speak to a college counselor if they had detailed questions about course selection, and it made the process easier if we were already assigned to students.” This is helpful because if 10th graders have any issues, they have a place to go with questions.