By Colleges EditorThe college admissions process may seem far away during the hazy days of summer, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already begun thinking about it. It’s never too early to start planning for college, and there are plenty of ways to make yourself stand out and get a jump on the process during the summer before your junior year. Here are three things that you can do right now to stay ahead of the game. You’ll thank yourself later, trust us! Volunteer – The best way to help yourself during the summer before junior year is to stay active and participate in a program that both coincides with your interests and will look impressive on a college application. Find a way to take one of your extracurricular interests and turn it into a volunteer opportunity over the summer. Are you an athlete? Volunteer at a local youth sports program? Are you an artist? Organize an introductory painting program at a local nursing home. There are endless ways for you to take what you love and use it to help others. Summer Programs – Admissions offices no longer look for the “well-rounded” students. Instead, the trend is to find students who excel in one or two specific areas. Take one of your interests, whether academic or personal, and pursue it over the summer. If it’s too late to sign up for a summer program, start researching opportunities to pursue this passion during the school year and start preparing for next summer. Plan Ahead – What are your goals for junior year, whether directly related to the college admissions process or not? Write them down and give yourself a deadline for each one. Reserve weekends throughout the school year to visit colleges. Mark down any nearby college fairs on the calendar. The best plan of attack for the admissions process is to stay organized and plan ahead.