Follows are tips for students in high school and beyond to help them get into a good college or to obtain the job they want for the future.

• 2014 and above: Look for ways to get involved. With more students applying to college than ever before, colleges are looking at more than just your GPA and standardized test scores; most look to accept well-rounded students. You want to build up your community service hours and explore your interests through clubs, internships and part-time jobs. Your involvement may also help you to choose your major down the road by identifying areas of interest for you. If you are unsure how you can get involved during the summer, check with your local community center, church or government offices.

• 2013: Is there a class you want to take that is not offered at your high school? Don't be afraid to ask about distance learning opportunities or taking a course at a local college. Many high schools have special programs to allow students to take courses elsewhere when they are not able to offer them, but many times the responsibility to seek out alternatives is yours.

• 2012: Request letters of recommendation. You should put in your requests as soon as possible. There will be a major rush at the beginning of the school year and your favorite teacher may be 100 other students' favorite, too. Contact your teachers via email this summer to beat the rush and ensure the teachers you want are writing your recommendations!

• 2011: If you haven't already registered, try not to schedule back to back classes. You'll wear yourself out running from class to class. You'll also be missing the best times to study - right before and right after class. If you have already scheduled your courses and see that you did schedule a class back to back, make sure you will have time to make it from one class to the next.

• 2010: Get regular sleep. As a rule of thumb, people tend to be more productive when they wake up and do their morning routine before noon, instead of at 2 p.m. If you have trouble getting up in the summer, set an alarm and don't stay up late. This will help you achieve what you want to do, be more productive and make the transition easier when school starts up again.

• 2009: Choose a major. There are specific courses that you will need to take to fulfill your degree requirements and they may not be available to you unless you formally declare your major and you do not want to fall behind, resulting in extra years in college.

• 2008 and below: Work on your resume. A resume isn't just another homework assignment that takes you 10 minutes to write up really quickly before class. This is a major document that will help you land a job after you graduate. Seek help from a career counselor so you know what you should include and how it should be formatted.

• Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email

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