My comments today are primarily for parents, but any students out there are welcome to join the party. With all the issues surrounding the world of college admissions, parents who are concerned about providing the right "flight plan" for their children to prepare for college need an overall schedule. There is a preferred time to execute certain tasks across the years in order to keep your child on track for the proper preparation to arrive at senior year ready to rock and roll with all his or her applications.
There's a lot of conflicting information about college admissions out there today. Many students and families are clueless about what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. No one person or organization is the ultimate source of college admissions truth. However, if I may put in a plug for our sister site, College Confidential, I can say without reservation that CC is one always-reliable source of truth for all levels of college admissions.