Assuming the beaches of Cancun aren't on the agenda for the coming Spring Break, high school students are likely to have some free time on their hands.

Here's a few things high schoolers (and not just Seniors) can -- and should -- do to prepare for college:

1. Visit Colleges. Seniors should visit or revisit colleges to which they were accepted, with a view toward deciding which school(s) would be the best fit. Sit in on a class. Stay overnight in a dorm. Check out the library (you may as well know where it is, just in case someone should ask you over the course of the next four years). Sample the food in the dining hall. Look. You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without trying them on and walking around a bit, would you?

Juniors: You, too, can -- and should -- get a feel for college life. Even if you're not ready or are unable to visit campus up close and personal, you can certainly take a virtual tour. Take a look at, and, to name but a few of the virtual college tour sites. It's almost as good as being there!

2. Search and Apply for Scholarships. Nag. Nag. Nag. It seems that's all we do. Well, have you been looking for money to pay for college, let alone applying for the billions of dollars available to help you along the way? Hmmm? Lest you have a penchant for Raman noodles and tattered tee shirts, or a money tree in full bloom outside your bedroom window, now is the time to go out and get some of that coveted college cash.

And looking for scholarships (read as, FREE money you never have to pay back), is not just for high school seniors cum entering freshman. No Ma'am. There are hundreds of scholarships open to high school juniors, sophomores, and even freshmen. Not to mention scholarships for those already in college or graduate school. Go and get 'em!

4. Review and Compare Financial Aid Awards. Hopefully, you submitted FAFSA, as well as any college-specific fin aid forms. As the Award letters begin to come in from the colleges you've been accepted to, analyze what's on the table. Scholarships vs. loans. Grants vs. Work-Study. A full ride vs. a cup of coffee and half a doughnut. See what they've offered, whether you can get (or at least ask for) more, and which school is offering you, all things considered, the best bang for the buck.

5. Discuss College Options with Your Family. Whether you have to make that decision by May 1, or college is just beginning to dawn on the horizon, your family has almost as much at stake in this process as you do. After all, they're the ones who will have to drive to Guam (figuartively, we hope) with all of your worldly possessions. Sometimes, just sometimes, those parental units have a few eye-opening thoughts and ideas. Use them as a sounding board, and be sure to give a listen!

6. Take A Look at the New Common App Essay Prompts. [Seniors, you can skip this one. Phew!] Yes, there will be changes to the Common App. Among them, the essay prompts and word limits. Get a head start, if not actually putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?), then at least beginning to think about what you'll say in your personal statement.

7. Kick Back and Relax! You've been working hard this semester. You deserve a break. If not that virgin Pina Colada, then certainly smacking down that snooze button and sleeping past Noon at least once during the week. :-)

From The College Whisperer to you and yours, a sweet and joyous Passover, a happy Easter, and a warm, sun-filled, altogether delightful spring!

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . .

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