Organize apps

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Organize apps
By Nagromis (Nagromis) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 12:18 am: Edit

Can any veterans give me advise on how to help my son organize his college applications and deadlines? It all seems so overwhelming. Thank so much in advance.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 12:32 am: Edit

This is kinda a 'big' question and so I am only going to give a general idea with less specifics. First, have him make one folder for each college. Anytime he contacts anyone, does any emails, etc., make copies and add it to the folder to keep a record as it is hard to keep everything straight.

Have him make a chart, like a spreadsheet. List all the schools along the top (or side) and then have columns or rows going the other way to record pertinent dates and actions taken...such as: requested application, application received, application due date, scores sent, teacher recs sent, financial aid app due, etc. Have him enter dates or checkmarks in the little boxes so that it is all on one page at a glance.

Sit down and come up with a timeline of all the things that need to be done in this process and approximately what month or order they will be done. For instance, brainstorm attributes he wants to "market" about himself (this will guide his applications and recs and interviews), compose activity/award list, request teacher recs, write essays, line up visits, and so forth. Use this time line as a guide through the whole process.

As far as things like essays, when it comes time for that step, have him go through all the applications and list what the requirements are or the prompts. As he lists these all on one page, he can then discuss a plan of attack as to how many essays he will have to write, which can be used to satisfy certain school's prompts and then have an idea of what he needs to do overall as far as essays, rather than just taking it one app at a time in that regard.

Once this plan is in place, he should pick an order to get going on his apps, one at a time. After the first one is done, the others get easier as some parts are the same or overlap from app to app. Keep using that spreadsheet of what was done for each school and record dates completed, etc.

Hope this helps. Sorry to not get into every single step but this is a start.


By Coureur (Coureur) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 12:34 am: Edit

A spreadsheet helps. You can list deadlines and requirements by school. We kept it posted on a bulletin board next to the desk for easy reference.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 08:32 am: Edit

We went the somewhat "old fashioned" way. DS got a hanging file folder box. We made a folder for each school to which he applied. DS made a list of the requirements for college aps noting deadline dates on the checklist for THAT school (e.g. completed application, letters of recommendation, transcript request, etc). He attached that to each folder and checked off and dated what was done. He made a generic list on the computer and copied it. HE filled in the dates, etc. If something wasn't applicable for a certain application, he put N/A. He kept EVERYTHING that came from that college in that folder. His were actually different color.

By Mom2003 (Mom2003) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 10:47 am: Edit

I set up a spreadsheet... son never looked at it. Everything was done by the seat of the pants with bits and pieces of loose paper all over his room. Thank god his school mailed everything in one package and he only had to order SAT scores separately.

So it would be great if you can organize any system, but if you can't, welcome to the club.

By Lamom (Lamom) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:01 am: Edit

I have never done a spreadsheet by myself and son had no interest in making one.But it would have been great. We had folders for ea school and ea folder in a large envelope.

The refrigerator calendar was valuable. I posted all important dates and auditions on the calendar. I also would put little notes on the calendar like "UC app due in 15 days-have essay completed, UC app due in 10 days be finished". Son read and ignored my comments-but he did send UC app out 2 days before deadline and did not have to panic about not getting online at the last minute.

The envelopes were helpful because we just grabbed it when we left for auditions. We also put in mapquest and audition requirement stuff in the evelope. I stuffed all the envelopes in the kitchen desk in my usual file system-throw it in before something falls on your head.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:11 am: Edit

Mom2003 -- glad we weren't the only ones! D's RD apps never went out since she was admitted to her ED school, but of course recs, transcripts, etc had to be requested earlier and from what I could tell there was no organization involved (although everything somehow got done, lol).

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:11 am: Edit

The hanging folders on a box is a great way to go with each school. I suggest that the secretary of the procedure , usually mom, set up a spread sheet for herself if the kid is not the type that will spend the time to do so. Some adult should be able to eyeball where the kid is in the process if you don't want one on the sofa next year with remote in hand. I also dedicated a calendar with notes on it that I periodically copied and just taped to the box using colored markers to highlight important dates and missing stuff.

My girls did their own organization and my spreadsheet and calendar were just for my own info, but for the boys, it was essential as their time management skills were very poor. And every year my nephew and son went off to college, I would set up a hanging file box, check list and calendar taped on the box with key dates circled in red. The upkeep and condition of the files was one step above most dumpsters but at least some papers were preserved and they did have a place to put things already set up if they cared to do so.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:15 am: Edit

Thank you for this thread. This is all very helpful!

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:26 am: Edit

There really wasn't much to it for my son. He narrowed his final choices down to 6 colleges and five used the CommonApp. He finished that in one evening and emailed it to the colleges. The next evening he did the 6th app and mailed it in. Then he made copies of each appliation, compiled an address list and gave them to his GC. By next day all HS info had been sent and that was that.

Prior he had take the SAT I and sent scores to the 6 colleges. Before the end of September he had asked for his teacher rec from 3 teachers and they had gotten them into the Guidance office by mid-October. Buring this same time he did the CommonApp essay.

All apps were submitted by Nov 1st and he confirmed that they were complete before Thanksgiving.

Beause 2 of his top 3 choices had EA(Case and Rensselaer(as a Rensellaer Medalist)), he had acceptanes in hand by mid-December. We found the entire process easy and stress-free. He was ultimately accepted to all and had significant merit aid offers from 5 of the 6. Only Oberlin offered him no finaid.

PS-he did spent significant time researhing colleges in order to narrow his final choies down to 6.

PSS-he also had app fees waived to 3(Case, Rensselaer, Allegheny) if the 6 colleges.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:34 am: Edit

For me the most important thing was that the organizational system wasn't one devised by me, but one that kids 1 and 2 each came up with together with me. Kid 1 was particularly allergic to anything that resembled Mom's Plan, so we sat down and talked it through and finally agreed to hang a piece of paper on the wall listing all the various deadlines. The many forms were kept in piles on a table -- all the rec forms together, etc. Not very sophisticated, but it all worked and was easy for me and them to both access.

By Nagromis (Nagromis) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:21 pm: Edit

Thank you so much, all of your responses to this thread have been extremely helpful.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 04:52 am: Edit

Being basically filing adverse, we kept our system very simple.
We had one large plastic envelope-style folder (the kind that can be closed) for each school.

All papers -- viewbooks, letters, applications, maps -- went inside the envelopes. A checklist with dates was stapled to the top. Put all the folders in a basket. When we visited, we took them along.

We set up computer and e-mail folders for each school. If the information was on the computer, we didn't print it, except if we needed it for visits.

We didn't have an official timeline, but every weekend we'd agree on a TO DO list for the upcoming week.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:53 am: Edit

I'm amused by how thoroughly organized you all sound!

There was zero organization for my son's apps to MIT and CalTech (all he applied to, since it was a junior-year-longshot deal). He (we) did them all in one day and mailed them at the end of the day.

My daughter was somewhat more organized. She did one "white envelope" for each app, wrote on the outside what needed to be done, and checked them off as they were done. When the apps were complete, she put them in a mailing envelope, mailed them, and threw away the white envelopes with the checkoff list.

White envelopes are a major staple for organization around here. Whenever we plan a trip, a white envelope is created with the destination and dates. Then it is gradually filled--tickets, reservations, restaurant reviews, etc. Each is listed on the outside as it goes in. The white envelope goes on the trip, accumulates receipts and brochures, and comes home a complete record of the trip, used to cull materials for the scrapbook.

Other white envelopes hold misc material for scrapbooks. I do about one a year--combination photo album and journal--very casual.

In my office right now I can see 7 white envelopes: three trips in various stages of planning; two scrapbook ones; two dog training ones. I buy white envelopes in bulk at Costco.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 03:18 pm: Edit

Dmd77- Wow, I like the white envelope idea for trips! I think I will have to start investing in those. :)

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 06:06 pm: Edit

Thanks, Nagromis for starting this thread, as well as all who have responded, especially Jamimom's extrememly practical advice "Some adult should be able to eyeball where the kid is in the process if you don't want one on the sofa next year with remote in hand." LOL (at work, no less).

We are currently at the finishing-the-resume-for--the-first-college-interview part, and mom the secretary is attempting to compile Science Olympiad results for the last 3 years. Note to those who follow - record all your scion's competition results dutifully. Medals on a wall are pretty to look at - and much more useful if you have what they are for tagged on the back!

My son is also applying EA to a couple of places - I am hoping that the earlier deadlines will get the ball rolling.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:24 pm: Edit

With son #1 it was all common APP and, honestly, so darn easy. He applied ED to one school and so the core got done quickly. He whipped out the additional paragraphs in no time when he had to, and the essay was a 4 revision deal. He is a writer by passion and always had something interesting to say. The actual organization was completely my domain as he "lacks a uterus" - this is the explanation in my house as to why no one except me and my daughter can ever find anything.I used hanging folders in a file cabinet in my office, and a master spreadsheet on the wall. Having said this, he did well with checklists that we agreed to every weekend. Everything got done easily on time.

For son#2 have started with the same "weekly planning" approach and have the spreadsheet going. The materials organization is changing slightly as he wants more ready access to materials- so I think we will use files in a movable file box of some sort. He has a bunch of schools that are not common APP- so the writing will be more of an issue, but he has good ideas and a theme that will be universal. He has also agreed to use the various holidays we have in the next 6 weeks exclusively for this purpose..a big step. I anticipate a bit more difficulty than with #1, only because not all the schools are common App, but son wants to really "get to it", which is great.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Just one warning: some colleges require that supplementary materials (music tapes, art portfolio, dance video) be submitted in advance of the application deadline. This had escaped our notice until the eleventh hour, when we then had to run around like maniacs getting videos copied.

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