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6 Ways to Not Leave College Applications Until the Last Minute

Posted: 11/17/11 11:58 AM ET

Applying to college is overwhelming. It can make you want to rip out your hair, scream at your computer, and essentially do anything but fill out the mounds and mounds of seemingly endless paperwork that will get you to where you want to go. As a collegiette who has been through (and survived!) the process, I promise you, it's not as unmanageable as it might seem. Here are a few tips designed to help you avoid waiting until the last minute to fill out and submit your college apps.

1. Stay Organized!

I cannot stress this enough, ladies! It is so crucial to keep a clear head and to have an efficient system in place that will make filling out the Common App, financial aid forms, and other miscellaneous paperwork a breeze. I know by now you're all familiar with the College Board. They put together a structured checklist of what you'll need to keep track of throughout the college application process, no matter which schools you're applying to. Print this right off of their website or create your own model based off of the one they provide.

Print hard copies of all the basic information that you'll need to submit to each school. Having it easily accessible and in front of you will cut down on the time it will take to dig up the information over and over again. The information you'll always need on hand includes:

  • Your social security number.
  • Financial aid plans. (Do you intend to apply for need-based financial aid or merit-based scholarships?)
  • Family information -- your parents' or guardians' legal names, addresses, occupations, employers, colleges they attended and degrees they hold.
  • Your high school's information -- address, your date of entry to the school, your guidance counselor's full name and contact information.
  • Scores on standardized tests (SAT/ACT) or AP test scores.
  • A list of the high school courses you're currently enrolled in.

Keep this printed information in an expandable folder and place it either in your desk or in a bookcase so that it is easily accessible whenever you sit down to fill out any forms.

In order to keep track of important events or deadlines, set a reminder on your phone to alert you!

Shop the App store! If you have a Mac, iPhone or iPad, check out some apps you can download that will keep you on top of everything you need to do. The iPlanner and iProcrastinate will keep all of your "to-do" notes in one compact, color-coded virtual space. If you have a BlackBerry, check out myTasks, which allows you to sort your tasks into projects. There are hundreds of organizational apps available for smartphones and computers, so seek out the ones that are best suited for you.

If you're old-fashioned and prefer to use pen and paper to keep track of deadlines, buy a desk calendar and fill in important dates and deadlines or purchase a pack of large Post-its and stick them to your wall to remind you of the tasks ahead. Alternatively, fill in dates, deadlines, and tasks in the same planner you use to write down homework assignments. Remember to keep all handwritten reminders and notes in a secure folder or binder, because these documents can't be auto-recovered if you lose them!


 

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