SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif -

This year Cal Poly hit a record number of applications. More than 51 thousand students are hoping to get a spot. Application numbers are up nationwide.

"You start thinking about it when they're born," said Tina Solomon, a mother of two. Solomon knows how difficult the college application process can be. "You can do it on your own, but it's like a part-time job," she said.

Solomon knew she needed help and decided to go to a free seminar held by Erin Ogren, the owner of Central Coast College Consultants, to get help.

"I work with high school students sometimes as early as 8th grade," said Ogren. She says over the years getting into college has become more competitive.

Ogren says the key is to start the process early. "I like to have students have their list of schools put together, a list of schools that are appropriate for them to apply to by spring of their junior year," said Ogren.  

Taking up volunteer opportunities and doing things outside of school is on the list. Ogren also advises students and parents to think about what they can afford, and to have an open mind about college choices. "There are 2,500 four-year universities out there and what is appropriate for them may not be appropriate for their best friend and we need them to understand that," she said.

For Solomon learning all aspects of the process helped her son get into USC, and her daughter just got her first acceptance letter. "I realized at that moment that I worked their whole childhood to hear those words," said Solomon.

For students and parents who want help with college admissions, there will be a free admissions seminar at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.