Items for Organizing Your College Applications

Before you start on your college applications, there are a few items that you should pick up to make the process run smoothly. These supplies need not be pricey, but they are necessary for getting the college applications organized. Essential items that you will need include a couple of stacking trays, a large wall calendar, and some file folders.

Stacking Tray

The stacking trays are necessary because they will provide a place for you to organize your materials. At the very least, you should have an “in basket” and an “out basket.”

What goes in the trays?

As you collect materials, including notes about colleges, ideas for your college essay, financial documents, or other materials, you will have a dedicated space in which to deposit them: the inbox.

These materials will not, however, remain in the inbox forever. Rather, you should routinely—at least once or twice a week—deal with these materials and file them appropriately.

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So what goes in the outbox? The outbox will contain things that you need to hand off to someone else or put in the mail. These will include packets for recommenders, score requests from the SAT or ACT, or completed forms.

Wall Calendar

The second tool that is imperative as you complete the college application process is a large wall calendar.

We highly recommend that you purchase a large monthly paper calendar for this. Because the college application process is largely a family project, a big calendar will make it possible for everyone to see the coming deadlines.

So what goes on the calendar? As you collect information about deadlines for applications, you will need to put these deadlines into the calendar. In addition, you will list additional form deadlines on the calendar, including dates for financial aid, dorm application deadlines, and reminders of dates when items need to be requested (transcripts, letters of recommendation, or test scores).

File Folder

The third and final tool that you will need is a filing system. At the very least, you will need at least fifty tabbed file folders as well as a file cabinet drawer or milk crate in which to store them.

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If you’re so inclined, you can also get an automatic labeler to use to label the file folders. This is not absolutely necessary, however, and you can simply label the file folders by hand.

The first thing that you need to do is to create a separate file folder for each college that you wish to apply to. As soon as you have your final college list, you should immediately make a separate file folder for each college.

Within each file folder for each college, you should place the important information about application requirements. Examples of requirements include application deadlines, essay questions, dorm application information, or financial aid information. You might also have additional information about the schools that you collected from your school counselor or at a college fair. Those items should also be filed in the specific college folders.

In addition to creating specific file folders for each of the colleges to which you plan to apply, there should also be some file folders for general categories that arise throughout the application process. You should have folders titled “Family Meeting Notes,” “SAT/ACT Scores,” “AP Scores,” “FAFSA,” “CSS Profile,” “College essay,” “Activity Sheets,” and “Information Sheets for Recommendations.”

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By organizing these materials into easily accessible file folders, you will have access to all of the information at your fingertips.