Tracking college admissions deadlines can be a daunting task and quite overwhelming. At Empowerly, we have helped hundreds of students through this process and today we wanted to review some strategies students and parents can use to manage this type of project.
There are several spreadsheets students can use to manage this process. At Empowerly, we have a series of templates that our students use each year that we constantly refine. In any case, in any spreadsheet students want to be able track an internal deadline for the school, the actual deadline, how many prompts are needed for that school, the progress of each prompt, and a link to the actual essays for that school. This type of vital information should be planned out, especially an internal deadline, well before the actual deadline. This way students can see how quickly they need to finish certain deadlines to meet their goals.
With many students applying to 7 or more universities, the essays and the size of this project increases in scope. Often if a student starts in August when the Common Application is released, students will have to complete at least 3 schools a month to finish by the December deadline. Many Empowerly students apply to 10-20 universities, and the goal is to finish 4-5 schools in August and September so we have a month of leeway between the actual deadline and our internal deadline.
Parents can be involved in the process as well in a helpful way. Lots of students do not want their parents to be deeply involved, so defining that relationship when you start working on your college applications can be helpful. As counselors, we often come in as the intermediary between students and their parents.
Parents can help by researching deadlines, adding prompts, and adding potential ideas for students. Generally, we have found that students do not take up many ideas from parents, but often they spark other ideas that students like. Friends, cousins, counselors, and teachers can also help in the ideation process.
In addition to a spreadsheet with the deadlines, students can manage their documents in the cloud. One great tool is Google Drive, which many of our students use. This allows students to easily share their written work with each other, with advisors or mentors, and to edit in-line.
We recommend that students create individual folders for different colleges, and keep all prompts at the top of drafts that they write for quick review. Many students forget to answer the prompt and trail off into their own thoughts. It is very important for students continually answer the prompt throughout their essays.
Students should also make use of a calendar to organize the deadlines they set for themselves internally. This visual representation of the spreadsheet can help some students and parents, and also solidify the need for consistent work on their applications.
The college admissions process is complicated and intense. Above, we offer some practical working tips that we have learned after working with a few hundred students through this process. For more information about college admissions and private college counseling, please visit www.empowerly.com.