Posted by: Lisa Cynamon Mayers, Senior Admissions Consultant
For years I’ve told students and parents that the college admissions process is as much a test of organization than anything else. Dates and deadlines for standardized tests, applications, scholarships, financial assistance, college visits, etc. are enough to make your head spin! Add to that the mountains of printed glossy brochures, endless e-mails and other college communications. A poorly organized student could be buried under the seemingly endless marketing materials. So what are parents and students to do? How do you effectively manage the deadlines and the piles? Behold some welcome suggestions:
- Create a Master Calendar- You can keep track of those dates and deadlines by creating a master document to organize it all. Whether it’s an old fashioned paper calendar, dry-erase calendar, Outlook calendar, Google calendar or another option, you need one central location to keep everything together. Determine your system and then spend an hour or two on the Internet researching exam dates and registration deadlines, application deadlines (noting rolling, priority, early decision, etc.), scholarship deadlines, local college visit dates, evening programs, campus visits and anything else that will help you to stay on top of things. Make sure this calendar is prominently displayed in a place where you and your parents will frequently look.
- E-mail Filing System- So you’re getting 30 new e-mails a day from colleges. Your inbox is totally clogged and you’re no longer even reading the e-mails. Here’s what you need to do. If you’ve yet to enter the process, create an e-mail account exclusively for college use. Oh, and don’t make it, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Simple, straightforward and nothing questionable. Create folders for colleges you have no interest in attending, colleges you might want to attend and individual folders for the colleges on your list. As e-mails come in file them appropriately. This way you can stay on top of the e-mails that warrant your attention and eliminate the ones that don’t. Colleges are communicating more and more over e-mail so don’t carelessly miss out on important correspondence.
- Glossy Brochure Filing System- Back in my day (don’t I sound like an old gal), as soon as colleges had our addresses in hand, we were bombarded with brochures (featuring the only season in college admissions: fall), postcards, letters, flyers, etc. I think I received more mail in my junior and senior years of high school than any time since. Materials from schools that are off your radar completely should be recycled. Brochures and mailings worth keeping should be filed in an accordion file, file box, folders or your preferred method of files. A pile under your bed is not an effective filing system. Be sure to note important dates from the printed materials on your master calendar prior to filing.
If you take some time, little by little, to keep everything organized and in its place, you will find the college application process much more manageable.