All in Good Time: How to Stay Organized during the College Application Process

Finding time to complete essays, exams, forms, and other responsibilities is a priority for every college-bound student, but adhering to a schedule is especially crucial for first-time students trying to get accepted to the school of their dreams. Use these helpful tips to stay organized and in control as you embark on the college application process.

1. Create a schedule.

Every seemingly huge task is made up of smaller, more manageable ones—and the application process is no different. Start by listing the requirements necessary for admission to your school(s) of choice. An example of a typically uniform requirement is completing the institutional application. Then create further subcategories for things that are unique to each institution, such as taking a specific exam or scheduling admissions interviews as necessary.

2. Go digital.

The college application process is all about deadlines, and smart students use any electronic means necessary to stay on track. Now that you are familiar with each school’s requirements, make note of all deadlines—for everything from transcripts to interviews, essays, and fees—using a free provider such as Google Calendar.

You can also program this info into most cell phones using the schedule or calendar feature. Setting digital reminders will help you stay on task much better than a traditional wall calendar or written notes. You can also use this system to record important Web links for essay research or test preparation. These resources will be helpful as various deadlines near.

3. Research, research, research.

Now it’s time to fine-tune your application packet to make it stand out from the crowd. Be sure that you understand the mission, culture, and values of each school you are applying to, and keep all documents clearly marked and separated.

Your applications should never be intentionally deceptive, but it is advisable to tailor your message to appeal directly to each school’s philosophy and goals. Avoid confusing and embarrassing mix-ups by paying close attention to the characteristic details that set each of your choice schools apart.

4. Be universally considerate.

Strictly adhere to all timelines/deadlines and allow ample time for tasks such as soliciting letters of recommendation from instructors and colleagues or requesting additional paperwork from a school’s admissions office. The application process will go much smoother, and your chances of acceptance will be greatly increased, if you refrain from procrastinating and making last-minute demands.

5. Tidy up.

Print or photocopy each form you complete, and keep a separate folder for each of your prospective schools. Make sure that financial aid documents are kept separate from admissions forms (two-pocket folders work well for this purpose), and keep frequently requested documentation, such as transcripts and financial aid offers, in a place where you can access them quickly.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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