September: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Welcome back to school! It’s a new year with new challenges — academically, socially, and artistically. To help you adjust and adapt, examine future goals so that courses can be chosen to complement those goals and serve as good prerequisites for college. Explore all of your skills in the arts, and plan for extracurricular activities as well, allowing flexibility for new or growing interests. Taking control of all your options in high school can help build the confidence you need for success!

Sophomore Arts Students — Stay on course and adjust. 

Work with your guidance counselor to make sure you’re enrolled in the courses you need to prepare you for college. Keep on track with your classes and if adjustments are needed, make them. Move on to the next appropriate level of classes in the core subjects — English, math, science, history, and foreign language.

Sophomore Parents — Encourage preliminary testing. 

Make sure your child gets in touch with the school guidance counselor about taking the PSAT/NMSQT. Although the “real” PSAT/NMSQT is taken in October of junior year, this is a great way for your child to get familiar with the test. Students considering taking the ACT should ask about the PLAN schedule. The PLAN helps immensely in predicting your child’s performance on the ACT. Both tests will help your child prepare for the “big tests” next year.

October: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

The school year is still new, so it’s a great time to look ahead and plan ahead. Remember that your academic and performing or visual arts choices in high school should serve your longer-term goals as you prepare for college and beyond. Keep in mind that no matter what decisions you’ve made, or are about to make, you may want to refine your selections as you develop and grow. Stay focused, and at the same time, stay open to exploring new areas at all times!

Sophomore Arts Students — Practice with the PSAT.

Taking the PSAT as a sophomore will help prepare you for the real thing next year. It also allows you to release your name to colleges so you can start receiving information from them. Also review your courses with your guidance counselor to make sure you’re enrolled in the classes you need to prepare you for college.

Sophomore Parents — Take your kid to the fair. 

It’s a good time to start checking out college fairs and possibly meeting with school representatives that come to your area. Encourage your child to get a feel for the college search by attending one fair, and if ready, a session or two with representatives at school. It may also be a good time to start a preliminary list of potential colleges.

November: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Thanksgiving and the holiday season are fast approaching, and the school year is suddenly beginning to fly by. As a student of the visual or performing arts, this is your cue to take these next few weeks to get your projects, assignments, applications, essays, auditions, and portfolios in order. It’s a lot to handle, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming — simply give your full attention to one thing at a time. Enjoy the holiday, and remember to give thanks for all of your educational opportunities! 

Sophomore Arts Students — Prepare for the ACT. 

Ask your guidance counselor about the PLAN assessment program offered by American College Testing. This program helps determine your study habits and academic progress and interests; it will also prepare you for the ACT.

Sophomore Parents — Practice and PLAN. 

Sophomore year marks the beginning of standardized testing. This year, students can take a practice PSAT/NMSQT — a preparatory step for the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT next year. For students planning on taking the ACT, the PLAN assessment is also administered in their sophomore year. Practice may not make perfect, but it can help!

December: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

It’s just about time for the winter break and the holidays. Family and friends, who haven’t seen us in a while, will likely ask what we’re up to, and that’s a good thing because it’s the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves the same question. This is a great time to take stock to see if we’re on course to reach our academic and arts goals. Some of us may find that we need to take a step back and better define those goals. So take a little time to get on track and have a great holiday!

Sophomore Arts Students — Read, write, and seek advice. 

Continue to develop your reading skills to help you prepare for tests while making you a more well-rounded person. Read lots of recommended books as well as the news to stay on top of current events. You’ll need good writing skills no matter what path you pursue, so work on them now. Work with a teacher or another adult who can guide and encourage you to write well. Check in with your guidance counselor for advice and to make sure you’re staying on track. Discuss your PSAT scores, and ask about postsecondary enrollment options and Advanced Placement (AP) courses that may be appropriate.

Sophomore Parents — Help plan for improvement. 

PSAT/NMSQT scores should be back by now and between you, your child, and the high school guidance counselor, this is a good time to develop strategies for improving weak areas, if needed. It’s also a great time to look into summer programs for performing arts students.

January: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Happy New Year! Welcome to the monthly guide designed to help students of the arts with simple, step-by-step college preparation tips. As we make our new-year resolutions, it’s the perfect time for high school students to re-commit to pursuing the dream.

Sophomore Arts Students — Take on new roles. 

This is the time to explore new areas and expand your possibilities. Often the instances where we push past our comfort zones offer the greatest rewards. If you’ve become involved with extracurricular activities, stay involved and work toward leadership positions in the activities you like best. Find out how rewarding community service can be.

Sophomore Parents — Revisit the course schedule. 

How well is your child fitting in academically? Each student is different, so make sure that your student’s classes are an appropriate fit. If grades are slipping, the course levels may be too high or study habits may be poor. Keep the communication lines open with your kid and his or her teachers to properly evaluate the situation.

February: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

When the winter term is in full force, spring and summer can feel very far off, but don’t be deceived by the time of year. Keep up the pace and prepare for the not-so-distant future.

Sophomore Arts Students — Explore career possibilities.

Explore all of your career options. You may or may not be heading for a career in the arts. Either way, speak with your guidance counselor, and do the research to learn about the tasks, education, and training necessary for each occupational area.

Sophomore Parents — Check in on student activities. 

We all know how valuable extracurricular activities can be. So take a good look to see if they’re going well. Make sure they’re not having a negative impact on your child’s studies. If so, you and your child should consider cutting back on some of the activities.

March: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

March is a month of transition. While the seasons are changing, students are growing. As winter turns to spring, simple steps can help budding performing and visual arts students blossom.

Sophomore Arts Students — Check in with your counselor for advice. 

Meet with your guidance counselor to make sure you’re on track and planning ahead. You can also talk about your PSAT scores and ask about postsecondary enrollment options and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Remember to read. Developing reading skills will help prepare you for tests and make you a well-rounded individual, so strengthen your routine for reading.

Sophomore Parents — Consider additional testing. 

You and your child, along with the school counselor, should discuss SAT Subject Tests and APs, although many students wait until their junior year. The typical test period is May and June.

April: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Spring break is over, and we’re entering the home stretch of the school year. Every step can be a difference maker for visual and performing arts students in the search for the right schools, scholarships, and financial aid packages.

Sophomore Arts Students — Get your college search going. 

College search tools can help you decide what factors are important to you so can assemble a list of colleges that matches your criteria. Your guidance counselor can recommend search tools, or try online sites like or Start attending college fairs, ask questions, and review the material you get from each type of school so you can begin to compare and contrast.

Sophomore Parents — Get your student thinking about college.

It may seem like a long way off, particularly to students, but the college years will be here before you know it. Plant the higher education seeds now by exposing your child to college fairs and facilitating the beginning of the search. Also keep in mind that summer is around the corner, and you may want to consider a camp or program that helps prepare arts students for college.

May: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Yes it’s true, summer will actually be here next month, and we’ll all be planning for the next school year. For high school students of the arts who want to take their craft to the next level in college, a little monthly college prep advice can go a long way. Many performing and visual arts students and parents are following simple steps to help navigate the complexities of the college admissions process.

Sophomore Arts Students — Line up your summer plans.

If you haven’t yet planned how you’re going to spend your summer, your options are closing quickly so do it now. Find summer work. It will look good to prospective colleges and employers, and earning your own money will look good to you. You may also want to talk to your parents about attending a summer arts program.

Sophomore Parents — Help make the summer break productive. 

Your child should have a job or participate in constructive activities over the summer. Summer study, career programs, jobs, and volunteer work always rate high with admission officials. While it’s getting late for enrollment, there are still some great summer arts programs available that you may want to consider.

June: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Didn’t the school year just begin? It really does go that quickly, so do what you can to finish strong and begin planning for the coming year. Just remember, as you look ahead to the summer and beyond, enjoy the moment and appreciate all of the hard work that got you to this point. And keep in mind that each small step you take now will payoff in terms of setting the stage for the best possible college experience (and literally setting the stage for performing artists).

Sophomore Arts Students — Consider taking SAT Subject Tests. 

It is a good idea to take these types of tests while the material is still fresh in mind. So take SAT Subject Tests now in the courses you took this year. Use the summer wisely. Finding summer work will look good on your resume to prospective colleges and employers. Of course, anything you can do to enhance your arts skills and/or portfolio, either practice or helpful programs, will go a long way.

Sophomore Parents — Help plan for the coming school year. 

Keep an eye on your student’s registration for fall classes and activities. Encourage your child to take the most challenging classes possible and to participate in at least one community service activity. Finalize any summer plans, and, just as you may have done last year, devise a summer reading list together that will help the transition into junior year.

July: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Summer break is officially here, and it should be fully enjoyed. At the same time, with a few key steps, you can take advantage of the break to help set you up for success in the upcoming semester and well into your college years. For high school arts students who are in the midst of college preparation, you can accomplish plenty this summer and have a great time doing so.

Sophomore Arts Students — Get your college search going. 

Decide what factors are important to you, and begin to put together a list of colleges to match your search criteria. Plan on attending college fairs and read the material you get from many types of schools to see what aspects appeal to you. Start to contact colleges of interest. Request more information about academic requirements and programs or activities that are particularly attractive to you.

Sophomore Parents — Foster your child’s interests.

Talk about the things your child enjoys doing, what brings happiness, and what doesn’t. Help find activities that tie into his or her interests. Summer study, jobs, and volunteer work can help open up new skill sets and areas of interest, plus they rate high with admission officials. As a student of the arts, see if your child can “shadow” someone who works or performs in the area that has the most appeal.

August: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

As we approach the final weeks of summer, anticipation is in the air for the school year ahead. By spending just a little time each month identifying your objectives, planning ahead, and taking action, you’ll be impressed by how much you can accomplish over the course of the entire school year. Whether you’re about to enter your freshman year in high school or in college, this is an exciting time in your life, so fulfill your goals one step at a time and enjoy the journey!

Sophomore Arts Students — Refresh and reconsider. 

The summer break lets you step back and get some perspective on where you are in school and where you see yourself heading this year in preparation for college. It’s a good time to re-evaluate and refocus your academic and art efforts so that you can be sure you’re on track to accomplish your goals.

Sophomore Parents — Do some early research with your student. 

You can find all of the college entrance information you need online, as well as applications to many institutions. Summer is a great time for you and your child to check out some of the sites, plan future visits, and bookmark your favorites.