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Staying Organized in the College Search

The college search brings tons of things to keep track of. Organization will definitely make the process much less daunting and eliminate the inevitable panic that will ensue when you lose something important. If you are not naturally an organized person (like me), fake it ‘til you make it with these tips.

Use myOptions to organize your search.

Nothing like a good shameless plug, right? But really, our school discovery tool will allow you to indicate all the factors that are important you as well as your deal breakers and you’ll receive a customized list of schools that fit all of your criteria. If you’re not sure of what you’re looking for in a college, our personality discovery quizzes are there to identify the ideal types of colleges for you. The schools you like can be saved to your profile, so you can research important deets like deadlines, majors, cost, location, graduation, employment, and retention stats, student population and so much more!

Create a college application specific email account.

This should be some combination of your first and last name so it will be easily recognizable to Admissions Officers. You should have this email address dedicated specifically to all college-related things. I advise against sending college related things to your high school email address because many schools terminate access to this email account upon graduation which can be detrimental if you decide to take a gap year or you need to reference something from your application after graduation.

Create folders within your email.

Email folders are a game changer. I recommend making email folders organized by school, ACT, SAT, myOptions, FAFSA, etc. You can even create rules that automatically sort your email when they are from a specific person (i.e. myawesomeadmissionscounselor@xyzuniversity will automatically filter to XYZ University’s folder). This cuts your time exponentially when you are searching for an oh-so-important message. Also, be sure to consistently check your spam, promo, and social folders because sometimes important emails accidentally find their way into the abyss.

Google drive!

A wise word of advice is to make that college specific email account through Gmail so you have access to google drive. Your high school email address may give you access to google drive so be sure to copy over important documents from this drive onto your personal Gmail as well in case your access is terminated. If you do not currently use google drive, definitely upload important documents and essays to this because you never know when you’ll need a writing sample. It’s helpful to create a folder for each school you apply to. Use this as a place to store all documents related to that application (i.e. essay, resume, etc.) It’s also helpful to create a doc for each school with your student portal link, your username/password, school code, Admissions Officer contact info, etc. The Common App is also on board with google drive and has an integration that allows you to upload to your application directly from google drive. Google drive can even be accessed on your mobile device and while offline.

Dear diary…

Campus visits are a very impactful part of the college search process. As time passes your memory fades. In order to keep that memory of your campus visit fresh, write about it as soon as the visit is over. What was your favorite part? What are you most concerned about? If you had to choose to attend that institution at that exact moment how would that choice feel? Who did you meet? Upload this to that specific school folder so you can look back on it and reflect.

Create a physical storage location.

It’s probably not too often that you get snail mail, but it will happen during the college search. Some documents you may need for the college search may be physical papers so I’d recommend storing both the physical copy and scanning it and uploading it to your google drive. No scanner? No worries, there are scanner apps for free you can get for your smartphone. It’s helpful to create a home for these things, besides the dining room table. I recommend a box like this along with hanging file folders. Similar to email folders, I’d recommend organizing by school, tests, school papers, FAFSA, and other miscellaneous important documents.

Track your application.

Once it’s time to start applying you will have even more things to keep track of. It’s important to have one place to keep track of all your application materials so you can chart your progress in one place and view everything at a glance. Feel free to save a copy of this spreadsheet and use/modify for your own purposes.

Keep a calendar.

There will be tons of deadlines to keep track of within the college application process. Unless you are super-human, it’s not likely you’ll be able to remember them, so that’s why it’s important to record them in somewhere you will be visually reminded. That can be a digital calendar, planner, written in dry erase on your mirror, whatever works best for you.

It’s never too early to start organizing for the college application process. Being organized will leave you with more time and mental clarity to dedicate to putting your best foot forward to get accepted to your dream school. Is there organizational tip that has worked for you? Let us know, we’d love to include it!


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Don Munce