‘Tis the season of college applications, people! The Common Application opened Monday, August 1, which means that you can start applying now! I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed last year around this time. It seems like there is so much to be done & not enough time to do it all. Organizing your college applications is one of the best things you can do to help combat this. Not only will it lower your stress levels, but it will also help you make sure nothing slips through the cracks! It would really be terrible to fill out a whole application and then forget to send in your transcript!!
Personally, I used a paper and an online organization system. I know some people who kept all of their information online, and that worked great for them! It’s all really just personal preference.
Paper Organization: Folders
I used a folder system to organize all of the mail that I got from prospective¬†schools. It was really useful to save everything for reference later on! A lot of the questions I had during the process were answered by documents in the folders.
Using three different colors of folders worked well for me- I put safety schools in green, target schools in purple, and reach schools in red. If when organizing your college applications this way you realize you don’t have any green folders, it might be a red flag that you need to reevaluate your list.
Inside the folders, I kept a list of all the times I contacted my admissions counselor via email or phone call. If you email every school, it can be confusing to remember who you’ve heard back from & what they said! Writing down the answer in the folder¬†is a great way to stay organized as well. I also kept my admissions counselor’s business card/contact info inside the front cover so I didn’t have to search for it.
I also kept a “general” folder to hold my password list, copy of my Common Application, and extra recommendation letters.
Paper Organization: Password List
As soon as you start your college applications, start a password list!!¬†I cannot tell you how many people I know who forgot their Common Application password. Common App requires a very secure password (no real words, symbols, characters- the works), so it’s easy to forget. Don’t be that person! Keep a running list of all of your usernames and passwords for different college sites.
Even if you apply exclusively through Common Application, most universities give you a login and password to check your application status after you submit.
I would recommend using different passwords for each site. With a password list, it shouldn’t be a big deal! Make sure to keep it in a safe place, like a general application folder.¬†Just in case, I took a picture of the list and kept it on my computer.
Online Organization: Google Drive
A huge fear I had was that Common Application would crash and I would lose all of my essays. Believe it or not, Common App has glitched numerous times in the past! That would be my worst nightmare…
In addition to saving all of my essays on my computer and in the Common Application interface, I saved them on Google Drive. I also made sure to save my resume, and college comparison chart as well. Better safe than sorry!!
I ended up recycling a lot of my essays, so it was convenient to have them all in one easy-to-access place.
Online Organization: Application Chart
This is something you can do this week! If you have an idea of where you are applying, visit each school’s website and make a chart of all the important information you can find. I can’t tell you how much time this saved me last fall! Instead of having to search the college website every time, I¬†was able to¬†refer to my chart.
I also kept a copy of the chart in my Google Drive (just in case!)
Online Organization: Calendar
One of the most important parts of organizing your college applications is knowing when everything is due. After I made my application chart, I added all of the deadlines to iCalendar. If you think it might be helpful, you can set reminders for a week or two before the deadline!
My school required us to request transcripts and recommendation letters two weeks before they were due, so I also added those dates to my calendar.
If you don’t have/don’t like iCalendar, Google Calendar is just as useful! They have an app you can download to your phone or tablet as well.
Again, you could keep all of your information online, all of it on paper, or a mix of both. The important thing when it comes to organizing your college applications is that you find a system that works for you! I promise that the more organized you are, the smoother the process.
Please feel free to comment below or email me with any questions you might have!