Decision Day is Coming: What I Wish I’d Known as a Sophomore

Naviance Student Success Stories – Blog Series by Tamir Harper

It feels like the tide is finally turning after a challenging year dealing with the pandemic, and excitement is back in the air as the Class of 2021 prepares to announce their postsecondary plans on Decision Day. As this year’s graduates celebrate College Signing Day, their plans are sure to inspire us all.

When I think back to my big decision three years ago, when I had the chance to share the National College Signing Day event stage with Former First Lady Michelle Obama as she celebrated with us in Philadelphia, it’s with gratitude that I share reflections on the people who helped me make that decision. For me, that decision-making process started as a sophomore in the School District of Philadelphia, when I truly began exploring my postsecondary pathways, figuring out what careers and programs were most interesting to me.

To all those 10th graders out there watching your older friends get ready for college and careers, I want to reassure you and share some of what I wish I had known when I was a high school sophomore. The people in my life were critical to motivating me, each with their own perspective and experiences.

Members of my support network — my school counselor, principal, and of course, my parents — all helped guide me to “reach higher,” as Michelle Obama puts it. My health teacher also helped me consistently put time into using key resources, like Naviance, to explore and weigh my options. The high school I attended puts a lot of emphasis on helping students think through career pathways of interest, even challenging us to find specific professionals, who we ask to mentor us. My classmates and I have found that these relationships are invaluable and tend to continue beyond high school.

Since you still have well over a year to weigh your options, now is a great time to develop a system for comparing the college and career pathways that interest you. For me, being able to create a listing of colleges and scholarships of interest and build my resume, in Naviance was extremely helpful. I also found that Naviance features like Scattergrams helped remind me of the grades I needed to get in order to meet the requirements of my programs of choice. I’m glad the adults in my support network helped me be methodical about the college search process. Take good advantage of the time you have now to research your options, so you feel less rushed when decision time does come around.

I’m excited to share more advice for juniors and graduating seniors as we approach Decision Day and Signing Day. For me, since being inspired by having my first Black male teacher as a 10th grader, I have been grateful for many great opportunities to grow as an aspiring future educator. I encourage you all to explore and pursue your interests. Talk to as many people as you can about your interests. I’ve found that people are more than happy to help you progress in your journey. More to come on the importance of making connections in my next blog — stay tuned, and be sure to share your decision with Naviance on social media using #CollegeSigningDay!

About the Author: Tamir Harper is a Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholar completing his junior year at American University, majoring in public relations strategic communications with a minor in education. Tamir is a Southwest Philadelphia native and a proud product of the School District of Philadelphia. At the age of 17, Tamir co-founded UrbEd Inc., a nonprofit that advocates for a quality and efficient urban education, by working to disband the school-to-prison pipeline, increasing teacher diversity, and improving building conditions. Tamir looks forward to returning to Philadelphia and entering the classroom after graduating from American University. Learn more about Tamir by visiting or via social media @tamirdharper.

Topics college readiness Self Discovery

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