There are a couple of big messages that we keep coming back to. One is to start thinking about everything early. Earlier than you think you should. This leaves room for exploration, for changing course, for planning (academic and financial), and for sudden derailments. Another is that the only wrong answers for life after high school involve choosing a career path in an area that is not suited to you, choosing a school that will not help you thrive, or making decisions based on what other people think you should do rather than what you think you should do.
The last big one is that although we really encourage early exploration/applying and discovery, it is almost never too late for any of it - your choices may just change. A "D" on a report card will not keep you out of college. A horrible semester or year will not keep you out of college. Being late on college admissions materials will not keep you out of college (you will not be able to attend the schools whose deadlines you missed, but there will always be choices).
We really want to encourage balance, in how your family goes about the "life after high school" process and in how you choose your academics/athletics/clubs/community service while you're at Shorewood. So here's a little bit about what to expect, by grade.
As with middle school, some kids will need to get their feet under them before getting involved in all the "other stuff." And some will sign up for absolutely everything. You can expect to be assigned to Homework Club after school if you get in trouble with grades, until you are able to get them back up. Freshman year is considered critical for developing work habits and executive skills, and there are structures in place to keep as many freshmen as possible successful.
You can expect a little more freedom, being able to leave for lunch, but you should know that there are attendance policies in place and tardies count against you. There has been some misinformation among students that if the teacher does not appear in the classroom by 15 minutes after the bell, they are free to leave. They are not.
You are already familiar with Data Dashboard for checking grades, now you will learn about Naviance, which is in place for career & college planning. Students are given tasks to complete every year, and families should use it to look for colleges, scholarships, and more.
This is the year that everyone takes the PSAT. As a sophomore, it is a PPSAT, as the scores do not count for scholarships until Junior Year. The whole grade takes it, and the District pays for it. Hopefully you are paying a little attention to the potential career paths that Shorewood has to offer. If you are not necessarily a 4-year college kid, check out the CTE (Career and Technical Education) career paths in the course catalog (starting page 8). There are suggested courses that lead towards various careers, with suggestions for further education (vocational programs, certificates etc). If you are interested in the Running Start option for junior year, read this discussion on Running Start vs AP.
If you have not already, you should be thinking about logging some community service hours, joining a club or two, visiting college reps when they come to Shorewood (you can qualify for the After Shorewood scholarship that way), and reflecting on what subjects really interest you.
One reason to do what you love: scholarship potential. Consider the full-ride Evans Caddie scholarship, which requires a minimum of 2 years of caddie experience. What could just be a job or hobby could actually be the key to significant help with college expenses.
Widely considered the toughest year of high school. You are eligible for Running Start classes, AP courses, and talk of college is picking up. This is the year that you need to consider rigor versus sanity, and whether you want to load up on hard courses that you don't care for or concentrate on what you do.
Expect a lot about testing. While you are not required to take the PSAT, this is the year that there is merit money available. This year you must sign up for the PSAT (go to the Shorewood Business Office and pay the $14 fee); you are not already signed up. This is also the year to take the bigger tests, the SAT and ACT. We think it's a good idea to take both (you never know which test you'll like better) early junior year. That gives you plenty of time to decide whether to re-test and whether you want to try a prep class (you can check your scores against merit aid pages on college websites to see if you're really close to the next scholarship level). You can also focus your admissions efforts on test-optional schools if standardized tests just aren't your thing.
This is a big year for relationships, too. You'll want to ask a favorite teacher for a Letter of Recommendation, and it should be someone more recent than freshman year. You'll want to be making contact with college reps and developing a relationship with schools you might apply to, so that you aren't a "stealth applicant." You'll want to have demonstrated reliability and passion in your community service. And you'll want to join credit unions or clubs that might have good scholarships to apply for.
If you've done some advance planning, you can start the Common App and admissions stuff before you even pay your ASB fee for the year. Things to look forward to this year include college application deadlines, FAFSA and financial aid information overload, scholarship deadlines, the senior project (with 9 career path options), prom and graduation. Important to remember: schools CAN and WILL withdraw an admissions offer if you do not keep your grades up to the level that you demonstrated in your application.
This year, expect to use your planner extensively, because there are a lot of dates and deadlines to keep track of!!