College Prep 101: How to Stay Organized When Applying to College

Thursday, May 26, 2016

stay organized when applying to college Use Spreadsheets and Checklists to Stay Organized When Applying to College

When I started formulating my balanced college list, I really was unsure what type of university or college I was looking for. I didn’t have a particular major in mind, all I knew was that I wanted to make sure I chose a school that would foster my own academic and professional growth while being a place I would be comfortable and proud to call home.

I remember the process like it was yesterday, junior year of high school when SAT became the hot topic as everyone started to prep for the exam. I remember all the practice tests, the late night studying and the discussions with my friends about where we want to go to school. I remember vividly in my mind thinking, “Man, I can’t wait to go to college!”

How do you know which college is right for you though? I struggled with this thought as I browsed university websites and blogs. I knew, for myself, that I needed to see these campuses in person in order to really get a feel for where I could belong. I went on a lot of campus tours, bringing my forever-supportive family along for the ride! I made sure to keep an open mind on each visit but was ultimately able to narrow down the schools (a few reach, target and likely) that I knew I wanted to apply to.

Now that I had made some decisions on schools, I began the arduous process of applying to schools, and this is where I want to pass on the most important lesson I learned throughout the college admission process: Stay organized!

With so many schools with different applications and requirements, I had papers everywhere ranging from brochures and business cards to transcripts, recommendation letter requests, and more. I was also keeping up with different login accounts for each school’s online application and portals. My biggest fear was that I would forget to submit something to one of my prospective colleges and be immediately rejected!

After a little bit of trial and error, I developed a system of organization with a spreadsheet organizing all my account information and notes on each school. I also included a manual checklist of each school’s application requirements. This way I could mark off each item when I sent it out/electronically delivered it. Also, I would check the college admission website and mark down the date on when it was received so I wouldn’t have to track down the item!

Despite this being my system for staying organized, I think everyone should come up with their own way of doing things! What may work for me may not work for you! Be creative and overall just enjoy the process! It is challenging but nothing feels better than opening that acceptance letter, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences!

Whether you go into the process knowing which school you want to apply to, or you feel like you are open to any schools, find a way to narrow down your list. Researching the schools, campus visits and getting feedback from alumni are all great ways to start your decision-making. Stay organized through the application process and soon you’ll be attending and then graduating from your school with four years of amazing experiences.

I ultimately attended Binghamton University where the sense of community, academic growth and diverse student life really stood out to me. I shared my passion as an Academic Peer Advisor at Binghamton while developing relationships with people I now see as life long friends. My hope is that students applying to college are truly able to find a school that best fits their needs!

Need help getting organized for the college application process? Our college planning checklists can help you get on track! 

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