Insider Tips

5 Instant Tips to Get Organized

One should never downplay the importance of being organized. Whether we’re talking school, home or work environments – being organized impacts how economically you work and helps boost your productivity, your efficiency and your creativity. Read on to see our top 5 instant tips to stay organized during the college admissions process.

  1. Save yourself from password headaches
  • This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how much time you can waste trying to track down the right login information. Save all your application and college-related usernames and passwords in one (easily accessible) place! And, by the way, it’s a great idea to create an email you use only for college admissions so you can keep it separate from personal email. You will be amazed how the College Board sells your email to colleges who will begin to market aggressively to you.  Make sure this email is appropriate. is not a great email for college use.  And try to use the same password whenever possible to streamline the electronic portion of the application process. There are plenty of password apps and managers you can use.  Dashlane is one we like.
  1. All hail the master calendar
  • Step 1) Create one calendar with all college admissions deadlines and scholarship deadlines (including transcripts and letters of recommendation). Print it and keep this in a central location in your home so that you can reference it easily each morning and follow-up with administrators at your high school as needed. This version of the master calendar can also include “internal deadlines” like early due dates you set for yourself to make sure you stay on schedule with time to spare. If you prefer the calendar app on your phone and computer, you can set extra reminders as deadlines approach.
  • Step 2) Create a streamlined, perhaps edited hard copy version of the calendar to give to your counselor or whoever in your high school sends out transcripts, that notes when transcripts should be sent, and to which colleges. If you have taken a college-level course, make sure the counselor has a copy of this extra transcript that he/she can send along with the high school transcript as one package.
  1. Make checklists!
  • When you’re ready to begin applying, create a checklist for each application. What do you need to send directly, and what information is required of others? When you are requesting letters of recommendation, sending standardized test scores, or coordinating the submission of your transcript, be sure to give people plenty of time. (And say thank you!)University
  1. Take advantage of your college visits
  • Before you go:
    • Contact the admissions office to make a reservation for a campus tour and information session.
    • If you’re a recruited athlete, reach out to the relevant coach via email with the date of your visit and your athletic resume.
    • Contact a professor in an academic department that interests you and ask if they’re available for a brief informal meeting. If they’re able to meet with you, come prepared with three or four specific questions about the department, the major, research opportunities, study abroad opportunities, etc.
  • While you’re there:
    • For honest answers to your more sensitive questions, try speaking with current students other than your tour guide. What’s the one thing they wish they could change about the campus culture? How did they choose their major?
    • Resist the impulse to find a nearby restaurant and eat at least one meal on campus at a dining hall.
  • Once you’re home:
    • While the information is still fresh, take 15 minutes to write down or type up your initial thoughts and reactions to the visit.
  1. Organize Essay Writing: Read all essay prompts before you start writing
  • Don’t write more essays that you have to! By carefully reading each school’s supplement before you begin the writing process, you’ll be able to identify overlapping questions. For example, many schools ask you about a meaningful extracurricular activity or intellectual experience. If you’re given the choice of multiple essay prompts, choose an essay that aligns with those of other schools on your list.
  • Try simplifying the questions being asked to see if you’re found a familiar prompt. For example, many schools ask some version of the question, “Why do you want to attend this college/university?” Even though the content of this essay will change from school to school, the general organization of your response can be used as a productive guide to streamline your writing process.
  • Similarly, you may find that schools ask the same question but require an essay of different lengths. We recommend starting with the longest iteration of the essay and then distilling the content to fit the word limit requirements.

The admissions process is murky and anxiety-inducing on its own. Don’t add to it by causing yourself extra grief by being unorganized. Follow these simple tips to help lessen the stress and stay on top of your game!

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