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Plan and act today so you have no regrets tomorrow...
Most colleges accept the Common Application (commonly known as the “Common App”), which covers information that most schools use to evaluate your application. Get a copy of a blank Common Application from its forms page . Print out pages 3 (Academics & Tests) and 4 (Activities) of the Common App and stick them to the wall. Your goal is to have something to fill out most of those two pages by the end of your junior year. Almost anything you do in high school should be evaluated by their contribution to the completion of those two pages. There should not be any empty sections (except certain test scores) if you do your planning carefully.
If you have already fixed your eyes on certain schools, you should also get their supplemental forms and see what else they require. Some schools ask for additional essays. Others ask some very interesting questions to see how you respond, such as:
By thinking about those questions early, you may be able to do certain things in your high school years that’d allow you to answer those questions better.
For those of you aiming for the very top schools, please check out this article from Yale.