by Leslie Josel, Principal, Order out of Chaos
Use an academic planner. Whether you use a paper planner or electronic calendar set it up as a grid system so you see your week at a glance. Record all your college visits, activities, assignments and application due dates. Include a row in the planner for “College” so that you can plan your essay writing, SAT studying, etc.
Set achievable goals. You’re more likely to complete your tasks if they are broken down into manageable parts. It’s much easier to write one paragraph for your essay in an afternoon than it is to complete the entire Common Application. Check your planner for available pockets of time and schedule accordingly.
Set up a special organizing system especially for your college search. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the college paper work that takes over your life. Use a rolling file cart, milk crate or desk top system so it is easily accessible and visual. Create a file for each school so you can easily drop in any brochures, supplements, etc. specific to each school.
Check it off. Staple a checklist for each college with name of school, application due dates, requirements for references, essays, portfolio, financial aid, etc. to the front of each folder. Transfer all important dates to your master calendar or planner so you stay on track.
Organize your college visits. My daughter, Madelyn, a college freshman, offers this advice. “Create an evaluation sheet to use as a “brain dump” after each visit. It will help you differentiate the information you receive from each info session and campus tour. It also helped to organize my notes so they would be useable when writing my supplemental essays.” And bring a notebook and the school’s file folder. Place any handouts that you receive directly into your folder so that nothing gets lost between the visit and home. You can easily transfer the folder back into the file cabinet when you get home.