How to Organize Your College Search in 2015
Happy New Year! When it comes to getting into college, there’s lots to do: research colleges, visit campuses, take the SAT or ACT, write your application essay, request transcripts, apply for financial aid, and so much more. Being organized about your college search can help you stay on top of deadlines and avoid getting overwhelmed.
Use these four tips to organize your college search in 2015.
1. Organize your snail mail and e-mail.
Set up a system for reciving and reviewing snail mail brochures, postcards and letters. Use baskets: label one “inbox” and place new mail in it as you receive it; label the other “for further review” where you place brochures you want to look at closer after you open it.
To organize e-mail, make sure you’ve entered the college’s admissions e-mail address into your e-mail address book for your top college choices. This will make sure the e-mails will come to your inbox, not your Spam folder.
In addition, create folders in your e-mail to store e-mails you want to keep. For example, you may want to have a folder for Top College Choices or Colleges to Consider. Or, you could create a folder for each college you’re considering. After you open an e-mail, move it to the appropriate folder. It could make important e-mails easier to find later.
2. Create old-fashioned hard copy and computer file folders.
Colleges send information in both print and e-mail formats. Create a hard copy file folder for each college you’re considering so you can file brochures and postcards by college.
On your computer, create a College Search folder in your Documents folder, and then create a folder for each college. Put any electronic information you receive from colleges here—such as PDFs of the school’s e-brochure or a PDF about scholarships you downloaded from the college’s website.
3. Use a calendar.
Keep track of deadlines on your smartphone. Use an app like Google Calendar or another free calendar and reminder app to track deadlines and write task lists of things you need to do. For example, if you’re a high school senior, you’ll likely want to file your FAFSA no later than March 1. If you’re a high school sophomore or junior, you might want to input registration deadlines and test dates for the ACT or SAT.
4. Create a spreadsheet.
A spreadsheets can be very helpful in the college search. It can help you compare college options—just input colleges you’re considering as column names and factors important to you (like size, location, tuition price, majors, etc.) as rows. It also can help you track important deadlines for applying to colleges, applying for financial aid and submitting college scholarship applications.
Additionally, you can keep a spreadsheet for all usernames and passwords you need to remember for college search websites, as well as for college application online portals for each college and federal student aid online applications.