Tips for Staying Organized When Applying to College

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a college function hall filled with students and a speaker standing in front

Tips for Staying Organized When Applying to College

The second you start preparing for college applications, it’s going to feel like a floodgate of responsibilities has opened. Without proper organization and preparation, you’ll get carried away by those responsibilities and remain fighting against the current for months.

The key is to get ahead of the rush of to-dos and tasks by getting organized. When you have a clear plan and organizational strategy for handling all the loose ends of the college application process, you’re putting yourself in a better position to succeed.

At AdmissionSight, we’re focused on helping high schoolers make the most of college admissions so they can improve their chances of getting into the best schools in the country. It might not sound exciting, but organization is a crucial piece of a successful college admissions strategy.

View of students studying in a table.

Here, we’re going to look at some practical tips for staying organized no matter where you find yourself in the college admissions process. It’s always better to get organized from the very beginning, but sometimes you have to play catchup. Let’s get started.

1. Get Started as Soon as Possible

This is particularly important if you are applying to more than one school. If you wait until the last minute, it will be nearly impossible to get everything done in time to make a decision. You may find yourself unable to apply to all of your top choices and having to settle for one.

On the other hand, if you get started early, you can be sure that you will have all of your required paperwork by the time applications go out. This will leave less time for last-minute scrambling and ensure that you have a good shot at getting your deposit back from any schools that don’t make it into your top choices.

Also, if you apply early, you will have time to make sure that your application is entirely polished. If you wait until the last minute, it will be harder to get things done in time, and there’s a good chance that you won’t have all of the required materials.

2. Make a List of Colleges You’ll Apply to

You should have a clear list of colleges you want to apply to before preparing applications. After all, there’s no point in filling out an application to a school to which you won’t end up attending. Start off by ranking your top choices.

This will help you decide which schools to apply to first and which schools are less important. It will also help you keep track of all the materials that need to be submitted. You can use a simple spreadsheet or a notebook or notebook page as long as it is easy to update whenever new information is required.

Male student looking at his laptop.

Making a list of colleges you will apply to is one of the top tips for staying organized when applying to college. It takes so much time to prepare an application for one school that it simply doesn’t make sense to commit a minute of effort towards a college you’re not going to end up attending no matter what.

Knowing which schools you’re NOT going to apply to is nearly just as important as knowing your top picks. We recommend students start with a list of around 10 to 20 schools they’re interested in applying to before narrowing it down to around 4 or 5.

3. Develop a File System to Keep Track of Everything

Developing a file system to keep track of everything is among the essential tips for staying organized when applying to college, so make sure to try it out. From high school transcripts and recommendation letters to personal statements and essays, you’ll have dozens upon dozens of files to keep track of.

Don’t even get us started on the infinite number of copies you’ll end up making. When applying to college, it’s nearly essential to have a file system that is organized and easy to navigate. This will help you ensure that you don’t forget anything and keep track of everything in one place.

You should keep separate files for the different schools to which you’re applying. Within the file of each school, you can create subfolders based on specific types of documents or whatever organizational system makes the most sense to you.

Color-coding is another great way to keep things organized within a file system. Some programs also allow you to integrate files and documents into your calendar. Google Drive, DropBox, and Microsoft Cloud are some great cloud-based systems to use which allow you to access your documents no matter where you are.

When dealing with hardware-based documents, your computer can suffice. However, it’s helpful to keep duplicates of your entire file management system both on physical hard drives and in the cloud for extra protection. You’d hate to lose all your documents and lose the organizational structure you took so long to build and so much energy to maintain.

4. Make Multiple Copies of Important Documents

You should make multiple copies of all essential documents, like your transcript and college applications. This way, you will have a copy of all the vital records with you if something happens to your original compositions.

Making multiple copies of important documents is one of the crucial tips for staying organized when applying to college. It will help you stay prepared and prevent you from losing important information.

In addition, it can be a good idea to store the original documents in a safe place, like your lockbox or desk at home. The last thing you want is to have to go through all the request procedures again to get important documents because of a computer glitch or human error.

Making digital and even physical copies takes just a few minutes and doesn’t cost anything. It’s a small step that won’t make a big difference if nothing goes wrong, but it will make a world of difference if something does go wrong…and it can.

It’s always better to err on the safe side when you’re dealing with something so important and momentous.

5. Mark Important Deadlines on Your Calendar

There are so many important deadlines to keep track of when applying to college. It’s easy to forget about these deadlines, especially because all colleges have different dates. Missing a deadline can mean all the hard work you put into preparing your application was for nothing.

Marking important deadlines on your calendar is among the crucial tips for staying organized when applying to college. You should keep deadlines for each college you plan to apply to.

Male student using a tablet in a table.

This way, you will be reminded of important dates and not worry about forgetting any of them. It will help you track how much time is left until the deadline and make sure that everything is going well.

Also, it can be a good idea to keep track of how much time you have left until the deadline. By doing this, you can prepare for the hard work you have ahead of you while always knowing precisely when certain tasks need to get completed.

You can set alerts on your phone or computer to let you know when important dates are coming so you’re always on top of when things are due.

6. Create a New Email for Applying to College

Many people get used to using the same email address for different purposes which ends up leading to a completely disorganized and hectic inbox. If you’re like most students, you probably planned on using the same email address to send out personal emails as you do for college applications.

It seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. After all, you’ve managed to keep track of everything from school and maybe even work. Throwing college admissions emails into the mix can’t do too much damage right? Well, it’s not really worth the risk.

A professor assisting a student in a computer lab.

Trying to balance college admissions emails on top of the daily barrage of messages you already receive is setting yourself up for failure. Every email related to the college admissions process is so important that even missing one can spell disaster.

It is good to create a new email address that you will use only for applying to colleges. You can then use this new email address in place of your old one so that everything stays organized.

Creating a new email for applying to college is one of the best tips for staying organized when applying to college and can help you stay on top of all important developments. And there are plenty of those in the college admissions process.

7. Ask for Tips from Organized Friends

When you are applying to colleges, it is crucial to stay organized and ensure that everything is going well. If you can ask for advice from other students applying to college, you might find some helpful advice that you hadn’t thought about before.

With hundreds of other students at your high school or in your town going through the same process, there’s bound to be a student with some tips that can help you stay more organized in the application process.

It is essential to ask for tips from friends who are already organized and know how to get everything done. They can help you stay prepared and ensure that you don’t forget anything that you need to do.

Young woman taking a test in a room.

It is also good to ask them questions about what they did that helped them stay organized when applying to colleges. This way, you will know what steps will be best for you to take to stay prepared and not forget anything.

Don’t forget to ask your family too. Older siblings, parents, and relatives that have already been through the college admissions process might have some really helpful suggestions for remaining organized and productive.

8. Use Practical Applications

Here are some handy applications that can help you stay organized when applying to college.

Google Calendar

Keeping track of daily, weekly, and monthly schedules is easy with Google calendar. It syncs with your Gmail account and can send alerts to remind you of important deadlines.


This popular app puts all your notes into a single, cloud-based system so you can access and edit them from wherever and whenever.

Common App Mobile

The Common App comes in a mobile version which allows you to complete some application work on the fly when you don’t have your laptop handy.

Google Docs

You can easily create documents, sheets, and folders while uploading documents to keep track of everything seamlessly.

9. Stick to a Schedule

It is a good idea to stick to a schedule when applying to college. This is among one of the tips for staying organized during the college admissions process. With so many things on your plate, so many deadlines to keep track of, and not a lot of time to complete everything, time management is going to be essential. And that’s where strict scheduling can come in handy.

You can start by setting aside a certain amount of time every day or every week to work on applications, research different colleges, request documents, write essays, or perform all the other tasks required in the college admissions process.

Without setting this time aside, it’s easy to push everything to the last minute. With school still in full motion, you’ll have tests, homework, projects, and other assignments to worry about, severely restricting the time you have to commit to college admissions.

The situation is even more strained if you have a job or extracurricular activities. Keeping a strict schedule can help high schoolers maximize their time management skills.

10. Take Breaks When You Need To

Students should take breaks when they need to during the application process. Organization isn’t just something that happens in the physical world. It’s something that happens in your mind too. When your mind is cluttered and all over the place, it tends to make everything more disorganized.

As a result, one of the best tips for staying organized when applying to college is to take regular breaks. This could take the form of a 15-minute short break every hour, a longer break every few hours, or a string of days every few weeks.

The point is to make sure that you have some time to relax and do things you enjoy doing. This will help you keep track of your stress levels and how much time you have left before the college application or assignment deadline.

If you are taking a break from your assignments, it is essential to remember what you were working on when taking this break. It is also necessary for you to take breaks when needed so that the information does not get lost in taking a break from your assignments or college applications.

Improve your chances of getting into your top-pick schools.

When you begin the college admissions process, you have a clear vision of the top schools you want to attend. Whether these schools have captured your attention for years or you recently learned about their unique offerings, you know exactly which colleges make up your list of “dream” schools.

Unfortunately, many high schoolers end up turning away from these high ambitions and settling for colleges that are below what they could have achieved. Part of the problem is the fact that students don’t have a lot of helpful guidance when it comes to improving their applications and mastering the college admissions process.

There’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty students face when applying to college. That’s where a college admissions expert can help. At AdmissionSight, we focus on helping high schoolers just like you improve their applications to increase their chances of getting into some of the best schools in the country.

We have a proven track record of success with three out of every four of the students we work with getting into Ivy League or Top 10 universities. No matter what kind of school you want to attend or what academic goals you have, we can help you make them a reality. When you work with us, you don’t have to make any concessions on your objectives.

With over a decade of experience, we know precisely what admissions officers are looking for from applicants. We offer a wide range of targeted services aimed at helping students improve their applications to beat out the competition no matter which colleges and universities to which they’re applying.

Whether you need a hand choosing your high school courses, selecting extracurricular activities, determining the best summer program, preparing for college interviews, perfecting your college essays, or anything else related to the college admissions process, we can help!

Simply contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have about the college application process and how we can help you accomplish your academic goals. We look forward to hearing from you.





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