Organization During College Prep

ORGANIZATION

Believe it or not, research reveals that Americans spend an average total of 2.5 days a year looking for misplaced stuff. That’s nearly half a workweek we lose just searching for things. But time lost isn’t the only costly consequence of being forgetful. The study also shows that 60% of people have either been late to work or school because of lost items, followed by 49% who have missed appointments or meetings, and even 22% who’ve missed flights, trains, or bus rides. Turns out misplacing things can be more than just expensive; it’s a major time drain too. Don’t let disorganization cost you and your student. Make organization a priority.

Organization is half the battle when it comes to helping your teen prepare for college. If you stay organized, you won’t be fumbling around senior year in a panic. And as with any organizational system, it’s important to have the right tools. These tools will make the organization simple because you will have a place for everything, and everything should stay in its place. You’ll not only save time, but you won’t miss deadlines and be stressing to find that all-important application information.

Take the following steps to help you and your teen stay organized during the college prep process:

Set up two separate email accounts

Have your teen set up two email accounts—one specifically for college-related correspondence and the other for scholarship related emails. This will facilitate the information gathering process and ensure that all emails from colleges, counselors, teachers and scholarship committees land in the correct email account. Explain the importance of using these emails for all correspondence. I recommend using first and last name: [email protected] for college and [email protected] for scholarships. Gmail works well because your student will most likely use Google tools throughout the college prep process.

Once your teen sets up the accounts, have them set up folders in the account for incoming messages. This will help them keep organized and enable them to easily find emails related to specific topics. Encourage them to use this email when registering on sites related to college admissions.

Create a filing system

I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining a filing system for organizing papers, applications, college information, scholarship materials and resume materials. You can use old-fashioned filing systems like file folders, or you can create digital file folders. I prefer to use both because your student will accumulate both types of files during college prep. If you choose, you can also keep files online in shared folders on GoogleDocs in the form of spreadsheets. The goal is to keep all college related materials in one place.

Create an accessible calendar

I recommend a large write on wall calendar simply because it’s a visual reminder. This will be an invaluable tool during high school. Post this calendar in a place where you and your teen can see it every day because you will use it to keep track of test dates, application deadline dates, and scholarship submission dates. In the first few years of high school, you can also utilize it for activities, volunteer events and follow up reminders related to scholarship applications and deadlines.

Alternatively, if your family uses a digital calendar that everyone shares, create a separate calendar for college-related activities and scholarships. This will help everyone stay on top of events and deadlines across their digital platforms.

You could also use Google docs and spreadsheets if you prefer. Most students are familiar with this platform and use it currently. Everyone can share information easily and you won’t lose it, because it saves and remains in the cloud.

Utilize organization apps

College-bound students have so many tasks to complete and remember during the college-prep process. Luckily, there are apps for college-prep organization. This is great news because teens live and die with their smartphones. Having these tools at their disposal should help.

Here are some apps that will help your college-bound teen stay organized during those labor-intensive college-prep years:

Evernote–Free online tools like Evernote can also help your student keep things organized. This downloadable tool can be easily accessed, so you can access and edit your college application notes whenever you need to. Soon-to-be college students can use Evernote to create virtual notebooks for each school, organize important deadlines and track key documents such as transcripts, test stores and recommendations. Sound complicated? Don’t let its complexity turn you off. Mashable created a beginner’s guide to using the app.

GoogleDrive–GoogleDrive gives students the tools to get things done. Create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on your own or share and collaborate with others in real time. You can access your documents anytime, making them always available. All your changes are saved automatically in Drive. There isn’t even a save button. Connect with others by chatting right inside Docs, Sheets, and Slides, or leave comments on files and images. Add a + in front of an email address in a comment and Drive will send them an email so they know to follow up.

Naviance–Students can now take Naviance on the go with the Naviance Student mobile App. Improve collaboration and help students stay organized with an easy-to-use college research tool. Students can also see upcoming deadlines and set reminders to stay on track. Naviance Student is fully synced with the Family Connection so students will have all of their most important information wherever they may be—at school, at home, or on their phone.

Remember the Milk–Take your to-do list anywhere with this feature-packed app; never forget the milk (or anything else) again. Remember The Milk (RTM) for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad connects with the popular online service of the same name. With millions of users worldwide, Remember The Milk is everywhere you are: from mobile to the web to apps including Outlook, iCal, Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter, and more. Key features allow you to add and complete tasks; sync with your online account; organize the way you want to with priorities, due dates, time estimates, repeating, lists, tags and more; get reminded via email, SMS, and instant messenger.

Any.do–Any.do is an app that helps as you are preparing for college — and beyond. It’s a task organizer and to-do list app, but with features that keep you organized and on track. What’s more, you can sync it between your smartphone, tablet, and computer so that you can always access your list anywhere. You can use this to keep track of your homework, applications, moving lists, shopping lists, and more.

Create landing zones

Organization is your friend. Being disorganized during college prep will cause your student to miss deadlines, neglect to send follow-up emails, and forget who they met at which college. Their bedroom floor or their backpack is NOT the place to store those important papers and notices. This is the part of the process that you can help them with. After all, haven’t you been doing this for years?

Find a place in your home to create some landing zones. You can use a table, a desk, an office or even a counter in the kitchen. Encourage your student to put all materials related to colleges and scholarships in these two zones.

These organization tips should help you and your student stay on top of all the college-related information and tasks which should help remove some of the stress around college prep.

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