Aside from the importance of doing well academically, building an impressive extracurricular resume and performing well on the SAT or ACT, there is a huge amount of work students must complete in order to gain college admission. Unfortunately, students are only aware of a small percentage of the work they will need to do. Parents are also unaware.
Most families tell me that their vision of what they need to do to get a student into college is complete college applications and financial aid forms. With that vision of the process, students often put off completing their college applications because they believe that they will only need a small amount of time to complete a few forms.
The process is much more complicated than that. There are at least thirty steps to take to get into college and those steps have sub-steps of their own. The best thing to do is start early and get as many of the steps as you can done during the junior year. That will mean you can get applications done quickly during the summer after the junior year and start the senior year ready to file applications and work on scholarships.