How to deal with college application deadlines, part three: 7 Tools

In February I wrote, How do you handle deadlines?, outlining our household strategies, and asked for other suggestions. A number of people responded, leading to this series of three posts:

  1. How to deal with college application deadlines, part one:  9 Tips.
  2. How to deal with college application deadlines, part two:  Professional Advice.
  3. And now, tools to try for yourself.

I don’t believe one system will work for everyone — my methods of tracking work flow and deadlines might drive someone else nuts.

Here are a number of options for students and families to consider, including various checklists, spreadsheets, calendar suggestions, and apps. Maybe one of these will work well for you.

College Admission worksheet.

College Admission worksheet.

1. Application Deadline Organizer. Robin Mamlet and Christine Vandevelde, authors of College Admission: From application to acceptance, step by step, provide a number of spreadsheets in their book and, downloadable versions, on their website. Before building your own spreadsheet to track college application deadlines, take a look at this.

2.  Five Organizational Apps.  DIY College Prep provided 5 Free Organization & Planning Tools for Students. I’ve listed them below, see DIY College Prep for the links.

Is disorganization your downfall? Has an assignment deadline ever slipped your mind due to messy personal files? If so, you probably realize that you’ll save yourself unnecessary time and grief by figuring out how to get those files in order. Fortunately, some nifty free tools on the web can help you become a better-organized student.

  • Time and Date
  • Soshiku
  • Ta-Da Lists
  • Toodledo
  • Remember the Milk

3.  College Application Checklist. DIY College Rankings offers a spreadsheet and checklist in 5 Ways to Get Smart About Filling Out College Applications

Applying to college is all about organization. Colleges will have different deadlines, use different forms, and require different essays and you need to be able to keep track of it all. The College Application Checklist is a comprehensive check list for all the steps involved in the college application process. Use it as the basis for organizing the process. (Sign up for the DIY update in the box on the left and get a spreadsheet to help track your college applications.)

4.  College App Wizard. Lynell Engelmyer and Kelly Herrington built an app to manage the requirements from each college:

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. We welcome any feedback you may have.

CollegeBoard application checklist.

CollegeBoard application checklist.

5.  CollegeBoard Checklist for each College. The College Board website, Big Future, offers a checklist to print and use for each college application.

6.  Build in a calendar buffer. Cal Newport, via Study Hacks, suggests, Controlling your schedule with deadline buffers.

Any serious deadline should not exist on your calendar just as a note on a single day. It should instead be an event that spans the entire week preceding the actual deadline. (In Google Calendar, I do this by making it an “all day” event that lasts the full duration; e.g., as in the screenshot at the top of this post.)

The motivation behind this hack is to eliminate the possibility for pile-ups to happen without your knowledge. If you buffer each deadline with a week-long event, any overlap will become immediately apparent.

7.  College Essay Organizer. Daniel Stern and Scott Farber created an essay manager to help the student track down all his or her required essays and to coordinate the number of essays a student has to write. The essay questions are free, an Essay Road Map with a personalized writing plan costs $24.

We all know that writing your college essays is incredibly challenging. But what most people don’t realize, until it’s too late, is that simply finding and organizing your questions is often just as difficult — and equally important.

Essay QuickFinder organizes all your School App and Common App supplement questions in one place. It doesn’t replace the Common App … but it finally makes sense of it.

Let me know, in comments, if any of these work for you — or if there are others you would recommend.

Even the best tools still require a highly motivated student to use them. And/or strong nudges.

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Filed under Getting In, High School

2 responses to “How to deal with college application deadlines, part three: 7 Tools

  1. Pingback: Three big reasons to visit colleges during Private College Week | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  2. Pingback: No more “Topic of Choice” in Common App essay prompts | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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