College application checklist: What you need to get organized

Applying to college is going to be a project on its own. Having everything ready beforehand will help prevent missed deadlines and frantic midnight runs to the local store. Here’s what I recommend to be fully prepared:

Manila folders: These will help you organize all your information. You’ll have information from colleges, to-do lists, and application materials for each college to keep track of.

Sharpie:  This might seem simple, but if you don’t have something to write with available at all times, you might forget to jot down a deadline or important information. Make sure to have a sharpie dedicated to your application materials.

Manila envelopes: You’ll use these to send anything from college applications to financial aid information to scholarship applications. Make sure to get the big ones so you won’t have to fold the materials.

Booklets of stamps: Go to the post office to weigh anything you need to send out. Most of the things you send out will weigh roughly the same. If you know how much one packet weighs, you won’t have to go back to the post office to mail things in the future. This is where the booklets of stamps come in handy.

Calendar. You know those big calendars that some of your teachers have on their desks? Get one of those to write down all the deadlines. Make sure you also write a reminder at least a week or two before the actual deadline.

Printer. You’ll definitely want to have copies of everything, even if you submit information online. Colleges handle thousands of applications every year, so there’s always a chance something will get lost in the shuffle. If they’re missing any part of your application, having copies handy will make the whole process easier. It’ll also be a good record of everything you submitted.

It’s best if you have a printer that’s also a scanner and copier. If this is out of your budget, check to see if you have access to one at school or your local library.

Printing paper: This goes along with the printer. If you will be using a printer at school or at a library, you won’t need to worry about this, but you might need some cash to make those copies.

Clean space: To be able to get organized you’ll need space to spread your things out. This could be your kitchen table, a desk, or even your bedroom floor.

New email address. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a simple, professional email to submit to colleges. Even if you’re just requesting information, babygotback or sweetpumpkinpie2020 will not look good to colleges. Get a simple new email with your name or initials, and don’t forget to check it.

Cleanup your Facebook/MySpace/Twitter accounts. Anything that you put online is available for anyone to see, including colleges. Big scholarships especially will be checking into potential recipients. McDonald’s doesn’t want a newspaper getting a hold of your party picture and making them look bad. Be the person you want colleges and scholarships to think you are offline and online.

Copies of recommendation letters: Be sure to ask for more letters than you think you’ll need. That way you can open one of the recommendations and make multiple copies of it. You can use these for future scholarship applications or just as a record. Different recommendations will be useful for different purposes, so reading them will help you decide which ones will be best to submit.


>>Quick guide to recommendations

Transcripts and schedule of your classes. Your school will send out an official transcript, but on some applications, you’ll also be asked to fill out your classes and grades. So have your transcripts and schedule of classes handy.

Resume. You’ll want to give your resume to anyone you ask for a recommendation, and it could help you pick a topic for your essay. You may have to write your activities directly onto the application, so having your resume handy will make that process easier.

Filled out the Common App. Keep a copy for people who help you fill out applications and to have all your information in one place.


>>The Common Application: Your ticket to college, or is it?

Last but not least, save everything. Once you’ve started filling out applications and gathering information, don’t throw anything away. You might be able to use it in another application. You never know where it will be useful.


>>Choosing colleges that fit your interests