My wife Cathy and I have taken enough trips in our life together to know that before we do any packing for a vacation, we need to have a check list for the trip. We have had more than enough times early in our marriage where we were an hour down the road when one of us suddenly uttered the famous words “Did we remember …?” The worst times have been when we are in a rush to get everything together and hit the road in 30 minutes or less, and some bag, book or envelope is still sitting on the kitchen counter while we race out of the driveway. We have learned the hard way (urgent trips to Target or CVS) to take the time to plan out the preparations for a trip.
In the same way, I seriously suggest that you take the time to plan out the college application process. I have written about this issue before, but here is a more specific list of suggestions:
- Get a copy of your transcript, your resume (or create one and then put it with your college admissions materials), your school counselor’s contact information, documented verification that your official SAT/ACT scores were sent to each college, your senior schedule, and payment information (credit card information for example). One of my co-workers has also suggested a box of green tea bags for a calming cup during this stressful time.
- Go out and buy a large bin, crate, or accordion style file holder to keep all of your college materials . In addition, create a section for each college where you will be applying, purchase enough folders for different sections for each college (admission, financial aid, housing, scholarships, etc.), and label each folder with the college’s name.
- Create a checklist for each college, which should include a section for both the deadline date and the date submitted for each item. Your list should include all the required materials, from the application, application fee, transcript, test scores, recommendations, etc. The checklist should also have a place to list any user name and password that you have for the college’s application or status check.
- Purchase or print out a master calendar where you can list the important dates for each college. This could include the deadline dates, the notification dates, May 1 commitment deposit date, etc. You can use different colors for the different schools (red for UGA, orange for Clemson, etc.). Post this calendar in a prominent place in your house. Shoot for taking care of things by AT LEAST two weeks prior to a deadline.
- After applying, print out a copy of the application verification page(s) and any other post-application requirements that each college gives you.
This is probably not everything that you will need, but it is at least a good start. Hopefully this will help make sure that nothing will be left on the counter as you take off on your college admissions journey.