Where do you want to go?
Before applying to a college, make sure you've done everything in your power to make sure you want to possibly go there. This includes college visits, browsing their website, talking to admissions officers, and possibly even talking to current students. It is not worth applying to a school you don't want to go to. Application costs will pile up so make sure you narrow it down to schools you want to go to.
Include a Reach and a Safety School
When applying to colleges you should consider applying for a school you may not get into. Especially if you like the school, you might not get in but there is always a chance. You always want to apply for a safety school. Because worst case scenario, you apply to a bunch of reach schools and get into none. Applying to a school that you have a high chance of getting into is good.
Some schools accept early applications, however, if you apply early and get in, you must go to the school. This is something to think about because you have a higher chance of admissions if you guarantee that you will attend. If you have a dream a school and you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, this is probably a good option.
On your applications, there is going to be spots to write about what you do outside of school. This is not the time to be humble, talk about all your extracurricular activities. This can range from sports, clubs, or even just babysitting your siblings. If you are debating whether or not to include it, include it. Colleges want to know everything you do outside of school to determine whether or not you would be a good fit at the school.
Many schools require a teacher recommendation to be included in the application. This is very important because it shows how your teacher perceives you. When asking a teacher, be sure to do it way before the deadline. Teachers have a lot to do, so make sure you give them time to write the recommendation. And after they write it, be sure to say thank you and maybe send them an email or letter to show you really appreciate it.
If there is a portion of the application which asks for an essay, but says it's not required, you should always do it. Colleges like to see that you put work into the application and that you really want to attend their school. It also gives admissions officers a better sense of who you are. So always go the extra mile on college applications.