By Megan McCluskey, HerCampus.com
You’re probably feeling excited, or nervous, or some combination of the two. It’s your senior year of high school, which also means it’s time to make the final decision about where you’re off to after graduation. Applying to college can be very time-consuming and honestly, a lot of work. But with good time management skills, you’ll be sending in your finished applications by their due dates with no problem!
1. Don’t procrastinate
Whether you’ve had the list of schools you’re applying to planned out for years or are still completely unsure about your choices, it’s time to get going on whatever stage of the process you’re at. The earlier you begin, the more leeway you give yourself later on if you run into problems.
If you’ve made a final decision about the places you’re applying, check out the website of every school you’re considering to find out what each specific application process consists of and when the due dates are. That way you’ll know how much time you have to allot for each school and which ones should be prioritized. Take note of all this info (plus specific requirements for each school) and put it on a calendar or in a spreadsheet to keep track.
“Even if you’re applying early decision to a college, keep working on your applications for regular admissions,” says Kelsey Mulvey, a junior at Boston University. “I applied to BU early and knew that I’d rather have to send a bunch of withdrawal applications or delete a bunch of supplement drafts from my computer than be heartbroken AND have to apply to more schools.”
But if you think you have enough time to apply to more schools after you hear back and don’t have that many others on your list, it might be okay to wait to hear back from your early choices before sending in your regular decision applications.
On the other hand, if you still need help deciding where you want to go, make an appointment with your high school’s academic advisor as soon as possible. There are going to be a lot of seniors battling for appointments during this period of time, so don’t wait until your advisor is all booked up to try to set up a meeting. He or she will be able to refer you to a bunch of different resources that will give you more info about the schools you’re interested in and help you cement your choices.
2. Make a plan
Okay, so now that you’ve settled on a list of schools that you’d be willing to grace with your presence next September, it’s time to create an application schedule.
The first step is finding out when every due date is and then planning out how far in advance you need to start working to make sure everything is sent in on time. If you need help with this, check out HC’s “6 Ways Not to Leave College Applications Until the Last Minute.”
“Print out a calendar, put only college dates on it and put it somewhere conspicuous like the fridge,” says Hannah Anderson, a junior at the University of St. Andrews. “Put the day things are due on it, but also include the day you need to send it or have it finished by so that you can stay ahead of all the deadlines.”
A great way to stay on top of things is to make a to-do list. Whether it’s on an old-fashioned piece of paper, your computer or your smartphone, to-do lists can really help you stay organized.
In fact, there are a bunch of different apps that you can download to keep track of what you’re working on. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac, check out iPlanner or iProcrastinate for all your to-do list needs. If you’re more of a Blackberry kind of girl, myTasks works just as well.
“People forget that to-do lists are a great form of time management,” says Kelci Lynn Lucier, the guide to college life from About.com. “They can help keep you organized in terms of things you need to do and also in terms of time. You can write an awesome essay, but if it’s late it’s not going to do you any good.”