10 Tips For Staying Organized in the College Application Process

| October 19, 2011 | 1,048 Comments

With the college application process kicking into high gear for your high school seniors, here are 10 tips to help ensure you stay completely organized:

  1. Understand your child’s and your own organization processes.  Applying to college can be complex with all kinds of deadlines and requirements. Do not expect your disorganized kid to become organized. It’s okay for you to help but make sure you respect your high school’s expectations and mechanisms for communicating college related information to your child.
  2. Start a filing system at home and on your computer. You can help organize all the materials you receive from colleges, scholarships, and school. If your child is not organized, have him forward you all testing, college counselor, and college-specific communications. Use folders. Use a table. Use whatever works for you to organize the process.
  3. Make sure to you keep track of all user names and passwords for each college, the Common Application, and Naviance!!!
  4. Keep track of deadlines. There are multiple deadlines to track—college application, high school, testing, and scholarship. Create a bulletin board or online tool to track what is due when.
  5. Know college requirements and deadlines. Each college has different application deadlines. Many public colleges have early deadlines. You need to make sure your child meets each of them. Each college has different college application requirements from testing, teacher recommendations, interviews, and essays. If your school has Naviance, it can help organize this for you. Otherwise, you can collect this info online or through ALL COLLEGE ESSAYS, my iPhone/iPad APP that tracks application deadlines and requirements, including all application essays.
  6. Know your high school’s requirements. Each high school has different ways to communicate its requirements. Go to the school’s college nights. Check in on Naviance and on the College Counseling Websites. Make sure you understand the process for completing brag sheets, Requesting and sending in letters of recommendation from counselors and teachers, and submitting transcripts.
  7. Make an appointment with your counselor and finalize your college list. Make sure you meet with your counselor as soon as you can to finalize your child’s college list. If the counselor suggests some colleges you don’t like, throw them a bone and include a couple on your child’s final list.
  8. Visit colleges at hotels, college fairs, and at your high school. Many colleges have reps visiting your area this fall. Go to a college’s website and search for “On the Road.” Look at your student’s Naviance page for upcoming school visits. If the school offers interviews in town, sign your child up. But make sure your child does the individual email communication with a college. Make sure your child visits colleges at their school sites.
  9. Start working on college application essays. Get your senior going with writing the essays required for college applications. This process takes a tremendous amount of time and you need to help develop an essay writing schedule You CANNOT write the essays but you can help with an organizational structure.
  10. Prepare supplemental materials. Many seniors have special talents they need to present through supplements and auditions. This process is complex, and parents can make sure kids have plans for putting these supplementary materials together. Please don’t call colleges too often, and please don’t identify yourself if you are a frequent caller.

Dr. Joseph is a college access and admissions expert. A tenured professor at a local university, she believes that all students should have the option of a college education and does everything she can to help students, communities, and schools empower their students to make it to and through college.To find more tips and advice, go to her site: getmetocollege.org.

About the Author ()

Dr. Joseph is a college access and admissions expert. A tenured professor at a public university, she believes that all students should have the option of a college education and does everything she can to help students, communities, and schools empower their students to make it to and through college. She is an expert in college admissions, especially application essays, and writes ongoing tips to help prepare students, families, and college advocates throughout the complex college readiness and application process. She also volunteers at school sites, Upward Bound, and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to help their students write powerful college and scholarship application essays. Last year she released an IPhone and IPad app–All College Application Essays that provides all the college application essays students need to write for their applications.

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