Planning Steps to consider NOW:
Select classes for junior year wisely, this is your last chance to get your GPA up, but the courses must be challenging if you want to go to a competitive college. Review your transcript and current class schedule with your counselor to make sure you are still on track with your goals. Aim to read widely and build your skills in writing, languages, mathematics, and critical thinking. Focus on the extracurricular activities that are enhancing your life so as not to overload yourself. You need to balance extracurricular activities and academics.
Have your guidance counselor sign your up for the PSAT (Preliminary SAT), the qualifying test for National Merit and practice test for the SAT - or consider the PLAN (the ACT equivalent), which will prepare you for the ACT.
If your school offers them, look into taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses with exams held in the spring for college credit. Talk to your school counselor and teachers about what courses are available, their eligibility requirements, and how to enroll.
Don't forget that college is expensive and has to be paid for. It makes sense to get an early understanding of where the money will come from. This will help in college selection and avoid problems later.