How do you handle deadlines?

That’s not a rhetorical headline, for once. I’d like to know: how do you (student or parent) prepare to meet deadlines?

One more this month.

Our household has spent the past two months dealing with application deadlines. To protect the innocent, I won’t indicate which teen — Mod Squad Julie or Linc — is which:

  • Mid-December one teen went online to begin completing a draft application for a much-desired selective summer program and found out the deadline was three days earlier. Fortunately, that was a soft deadline for a teacher to compile apps for a hard deadline two weeks later. The teen hustled like mad to complete the app that night; the teacher accepted it the following day. Lesson learned? Maybe.
  • Late January one teen scrambled through a series of essay drafts right up to the parent-defined-early-deadline for a much-desired selective educational program.
  • Mid February one teen wrote fuzzy draft responses (using same or similar information to respond to each of a series of questions) for a much-desired selective summer program until the last week when the essays made their way toward a strong personal statement. App submitted two hours before the deadline.
  • One more deadline looms for a teen at the end of February for another much-desired selective summer program…

We’ve given this advice to our teens:

  • Print out the application form as soon as it’s available and complete the easy parts.
  • Figure out what you need from others — transcript, recommendations, health forms — and get those requests out ASAP.
  • Read through the essay questions and start thinking.
  • Begin writing draft responses as soon as you can.

After the fuzzy draft experience, I have added:

  • Make a list of the points you want to share (from experiences, extra-curriculars, interests, goals, etc.) and divide them appropriately among the questions.

For the most part, given the number of activities each of the teens is juggling — academics, sports, music, part-time work — they usually do well. However, given the deadline-dance we’ve gone through lately and anticipating college app deadlines next fall, I’m ready to ask for ideas.

What do you do?

Related Articles:

First college deadlines now in view.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Getting In, High School

15 responses to “How do you handle deadlines?

  1. Robyn S.

    Sedate oneself?? Seriously, another thought would be to put up a visual reminder indicating the timeline. Teens seem to think that time is limitless. I employ a calendar printout showing due dates, make my teen count back from the due date to see how much time is left, put the calendar in a place where it cannot be missed, and cross off the days as they progress, making the deadline loom ever closer. Has been known to work. And fail. I call its a “failure” when last minute high-stress antics are required in order to get the job done in time. The latter seems to be a prerequisite on the learning curve, sadly.

    • I like this, Robyn. I heard the JMU head of admissions speak at a general college day at UVa a couple of years back and this is what he did for his own children. The deadlines went on the refrigerator door and they had to check off each part of the application when done. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Kim C.

    My question is – how do you even get teens to think about summer programs in the winter, no less fill out applications? I have not found that magic fairy dust yet, other than – umm – “nudging”.

    • Ahh, Kim, in each case this was a program that the teen really, really wanted to get into. After the first application, when the other opportunities came to light, s/he wondered about applying: ‘what if I get in to more than one?’ Once we talked about going after the option to choose, the additional applications were taken on.

      I will admit, I never had much success nudging M.S. Pete toward scholarship applications.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I have no idea how to meet deadlines. I only know what I do and I don’t tend to miss many deadlines….. But I sometimes wonder if I have put as much time into projects as needed with all the things that need to be done. I have a desk calendar and I write everything work related on it. Then I also add to my google calendar which syncs to my iPhone and iPad. It sends reminders! I highlight the major things. Shawn and I sit down every Sunday and have a family meeting where we go over schedules and negotiate major items. I also add dates to my website calendar for school. When we are out of necessities to live, we use Grocery IQ app, which syncs for us, to tell each other that the toilet paper is gone. And when that task is completed, it gets checked off. We also put other tasks on here that aren’t grocery related, ie. “call best systems about car detailing” so whoever can do it, does.
    It is a very detailed imperfect system.
    My life would be much easier if Shawn’s work used google and then we could add each others calendars and we could view the others. Right now, that is all verbal communication and seems so…. Yesterday.
    But in short, a visual big calendar. Weekly check in for important tasks. A set aside time each week for working on apps, scholarships.
    I am worried about my seniors this year and scholarships. I haven’t had too many ask me to complete anything or get them transcripts! Agh!

    • Thanks for this, sophiesletters. We use a synced iCal for all family events (different colors for each of the five of us) — there’s no room on it for college app deadlines as well. The big calendar on the fridge could help. And, as we get into M.S. Julie’s college app season, weekly meetings will be needed, too. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Oh and I use the task feature on my google mail for big things that is always on my screen at work. I know they say google is tracking you and all that, but it is just so darn convenient right now for me. Plus it’s our school email provider.

  5. This is in no way intended as shameless self promotion, but because we know how much teens and parents struggle with college applications, all of the pieces that must be in place and the multitude of deadlines, we created a web-based software tool that allows students to enter the colleges to which they’ll apply, answer a few short questions, and then receive a list of all of the requirements for that college. The list is sortable and comes with text message and/or email reminders and the ability for parents/mentors to view the students progress.
    Custom tasks, like scholarship deadlines and more can be added. I hope you’ll check it out at
    We welcome any feedback you may have.
    Lynell Engelmyer

    • Actually, Lynell, your App Wizard — and the other suggestions I’ve received — is exactly what I was seeking. And your timing couldn’t be better. M.S. Julie and I talked on the way to school today about the complicated application she’s submitting today. It requires: 1) Two pages to be signed by parents and mailed, 2) Transcripts and a form to be completed by Guidance or Principal and mailed, 3) A teacher’s recommendation letter which much be submitted online, and 4) Two separate application forms to be completed by Julie and submitted online.
      We understand the reason behind the complexity — she’s applying to a new program which has its own app, but also requires the pre-existing overall summer program app — but it’s more than a bit dizzying to pull together all the pieces.
      I’ll ask her (after today!) to give your tool a test run. Thank you!

  6. We earn our money by helping with the deadline struggle. It’s not easy unless you’re devoted to the task. By starting early, I create a calendar and review Tasks every week. We make appointments specially to stay weeks ahead of every deadline. It’s a bit neurotic schedule-wise, but we are relaxed and the students and families are all happy. Beepers on your calendar also help!

    • Thanks for the comment, Patti. Especially, “It’s not easy unless you’re devoted to the task.” I think that may encapsulate one strong point of value for working with a college counseling consultant, since not many parents can completely devote themselves to the task. I also think the entire process requires some schedule-wise neurosis!

  7. Pingback: Why are college and scholarship applications so complicated? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  8. Pingback: How to deal with college application deadlines, part one: 9 Tips | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  9. Pingback: How to deal with college application deadlines, part two: Professional Advice | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  10. Pingback: How to deal with college application deadlines, part three: 7 Tools | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s