While it’s exciting to begin a new chapter in your life, applying for college can quickly become overwhelming. Deadlines typically fall within the same week and there are different fees and requirements for each university. The best thing you can do when it’s time to apply for college is get organized. Sit down with your parents and plan out how you will work together to make the application process run smoothly.
Create a spreadsheet
Create a basic spreadsheet that includes columns for university name, essays, SAT or ACT scores, fee and deadline. Add columns as you need based on the requirements of the universities you decide to apply to. You may also add columns with a link to the online or paper application.
Create a contact list
You will likely have to contact each admissions office at least once in the application process. Create another spreadsheet tab for contacts at each university. Add a column for the university name, contact name, phone number, email, date of conversation and notes about your discussion. This information will help you keep on track and eliminate confusion about which representative said what.
Your application is your time to shine, so don’t be shy about accomplishments. Start by making a list of all the extracurricular activities you participated in throughout high school. Note any sports, clubs, musical groups and student government. Don’t forget any special accomplishments such as leadership -groups or honor societies you were invited to join. If you completed volunteer work, make note of that as well. Advanced placement classes and awards based on grades, attendance and overall performance should also be noted, as should volunteer work. You can also note activities outside of school, such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, other advanced sports leagues.
Creating this list will provide you with a clear picture of your accomplishments. You will gain confidence in looking back at what you’ve done and you may find that these experiences help you in writing any personal essays that are required.
You may need to request copies of certain documents from your high school. Some colleges may want references from teachers, while others require essays. Review your spreadsheet and plan accordingly. It may take a while to receive copies of all the paperwork you need, so find out approximately how long it will take to get those items and make sure you request them far enough in advance. Be respectful of others. Don’t ask a teacher to serve as a reference at the very last minute. Give them at least to weeks. Complete your essays in advance so you can have 2-3 people review them for mistakes and clarity.
Preparing for college means a lot of paper and emails. Create new email folders, computer folders and file folders to help you organize important paperwork or digital documents. This may include test results, certificates or awards, or letters of reference. Label them clearly. You can also create a master file for each university that
It’s not uncommon to apply for up to five universities. Rather than applying for all of them on the same day, spread them out. There are often several pages for each application and you don’t want to make any mistakes. Applications require you to focus. Students and parents should sit down and schedule specific times to work on each application to avoid any mistakes that could result from rushing to do everything at the last minute.
Taking these steps will ensure the application process is less overwhelming. You will appreciate the freedom you have once deadlines aren’t hanging over your head.