It’s March, and you’re a busy family. That means summer’s taking shape, right?

If you’re anything like us, your kids are bound to be booked. Whether they work at summer camp, lifeguard at the local pool, participate in a summer research study or travel through China, they won’t be around much. Senior year will be jam-packed too. The most prepared applicants put the time in up front so their applications are polished and ready to go.

When, exactly, are they supposed to tackle those college applications?

Here are some of our best tips for students who want to stay calm and enjoy a little relaxation time this summer. Share this list with your 11th grader or keep it for yourself. You’ll be glad you started early.

Tip 1 – Map Out Your Schedule: Are you taking the SAT or ACT again? AP tests? When will you be in town, out of town, busy or free this summer? Find a few stretches of time between the spring of junior year and the beginning of senior year, and block them out. Divide the key tasks into manageable chunks, then set deadlines for yourself.

Tip 2 – Ask for Letters of Recommendation: Make sure you know both the rules your high school has for asking for letters of recommendations and what each college requires. Contact teachers before you leave for summer vacation. They will have much more time over the summer to write a thoughtful letter on your behalf, and they will be inundated with requests in the fall.

Tip 3 – Prepare Your Resume: Start with a list of extracurricular activities, clubs, sports, volunteer work and awards. Even if the school you are applying to does not require a resume, having one will help you complete the application. You can use this information to begin filling out the Activities section of the Common Application too. You will be surprised at how often that resume will come in handy throughout the college application process and beyond.

Tip 4 – Finalize Your College List: Add more details to your college planning spreadsheet or notebook. For each school, note which essays and supplements are required and which test scores, transcripts, and other pieces of the application need to be submitted. Decide whether to apply Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision. Add dates to everything so you don’t miss a deadline. Most of our students already have a strong list, but there’s still time if you work quickly and are clear about what matters to you most, such as majors offered, interesting clubs, professors, large or small populations, urban or rural locations, etc.

Tip 5 – Get Help From a Pro: This one’s for parents! Call North Shore College Consulting. You don’t have to struggle through this stressful experience on your own. Whether you just have a quick question or already know you want us to guide your family through the entire process, you can trust us to keep your child on track and on schedule.