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1. Meet with your guidance counselor to see what you still need to take. Check your class rank and GPA. It's never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend.


2. Take the PSAT and, later in the year, the SAT. Taking the PSAT during the Junior year qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship program, which means you could earn money for college. It's also great practice for the SAT. And don't forget about the ACT, coming up in March!


3. Develop a more specific post-secondary education path. Decide whether to pursue 2-year, 4-year, advanced degrees or vocational training, technical certificate, or military career. (If you're interested in attending military academy, talk to your guidance counselor about starting the application process now.) 


4. Make a college list to include schools that meet your most important criteria (i.e. size, location, cost, academic majors, special programs, etc.). Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you and develop a preliminary ranking. To help compare schools and find your best college match, use College Greenlight.


5. Continue gathering college information; go speak with college representatives who visit your area. You may be able to narrow your choices or add schools to your list.


6. If you want to play Division I or II sports in college, start the certification process and check with your counselor to make sure you're taking a core curriculum that meets the NCAA Eligibility Center requirements. 


7. Stay involved with extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in the non-academic activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles and making a commitment to the same groups are more important than trying out tons of new activities each year.


8. Talk to your family about the colleges you're interested in and what you want to pursue. Have discussions about their suggestions or concerns.


9. Learn more about financial aid. Examine your family's financial resources and gather information from the schools you are most interested in. Attend financial aid nights and talk to counselors. Start a scholarship search.


10. Set up appointments to visit your top 5 college choices, if possible. Call the admissions office to set up a tour or a personal meeting with current students, staff, faculty, or coaches. Ask to visit a classroom setting, a dorm room, and even the cafeteria.

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