Now is the right time to begin the discussion about funding for college with your parents. While you cant do much about securing financial aid during your freshman year, you can come up with a plan for how your family will go about paying for college.

Your parents may have been saving for your college education since you were little. Or, they may not have been so fortunate. Either way, youll need to sit down as a family and discuss the reality of the situation. How much are your parents willing to spend on your college education? How much do they expect you to contribute? About how much do you expect to get in financial aid?

Answering these questions early on save a lot of grief during your senior year. You dont want to fill out the FAFSA and realize in the April before you start college that you cannot afford to go due to lack of funding. There is always a way to get through school. You just need to start planning early to account for any difficulties along the way and to make sure both you and parents are on the same financial page.

Take virtual college campus tours

While you wont be applying to colleges for a while, you can still get a leg up on the competition by taking virtual campus tours for colleges of interest. Knowing what campuses look like, what their buildings look like and where things are located can put your mind at ease. Plus, it shows you how beautiful some colleges really are.

The best part about it is you dont have to leave the comfort of your home. Just visit the websites of colleges youre interested in and click on the virtual tour link (or something similar). Youll learn a lot and wont have to spend a dime. Plus, it can be kind of fun to browse around these different campuses.

Above all else, youll be further preparing yourself for the college experience. Just the act of searching through college websites and locating the virtual tour section is a good exercise. Youll need to become increasingly efficient when using college websites, or any website for that matter, as your high school career moves forward.

Volunteer over the summer

Just lazing the day away during the summer might sound nice, you should continue to work toward making your college application look appealing. You can do this by volunteering for a community organization.

Many students excuses range from they cant find volunteer opportunities to they dont know how to volunteer. Rest assured, the organizations youll be working with will be glad to have your assistance. Many high schools even post volunteer opportunities on campus. Check news bulletins and boards in the office for such opportunities.

Youd be surprised. There are plenty of organizations and companies out there that would absolutely love to have your help. All you need to do is ask. The added bonus is that doing volunteer work on your own time shows dedication, commitment and empathy for the cause of others. Plus, youll start up a good networking base that could lead to potential employment later on.

College administrators love to admit students that care about their community, can balance their schedules and work well with others. Add these excellent qualities to your resume by putting in some time with a volunteer organization.