College Plan Timeline:


We all know calendars are great ways to keep track of deadlines, but make sure you pick a calendar type -- on your phone, on the wall, in your planner -- that works for you.

Keep your stress level down and avoid misplacing important documents by creating a system for all your college planning materials.

Remember when we talked about keeping track of your college list? This is just one example of documents and materials that you’ll need to keep tabs on throughout your college search.

Whether it’s pieces of mail, college checklists, flyers from college fairs or financial aid nights, emails, resumes, application forms, college statistics, or information on standardized testing, you’ll need somewhere to organize and store all of this…stuff.

And you’re just a junior, there is a lot more…stuff…to come.

Not convinced you need to get organized? Think about these two points:

  1. When it comes time for college applications, you’ll want a detailed record of all your accomplishments to date. These accomplishments can help you present the best version of yourself to college admissions boards.

  2. You never want to miss a deadline. From registration deadlines to scholarship application deadlines, a missed deadline can ultimately keep you from attending the college you want.

Now it’s time to get organized. You’ll want to set up two systems of organization: one for paper materials and one for digital materials.

Paper Materials

If this were 1988, your paper materials section would be huge. But these days, you’ll find you won’t have a lot of paper records to categorize.

Most likely the majority of these materials will be mail, flyers, and applications. And of course you’ll want to keep any lists that you’ve created here.

Your organization system doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be a simple cardboard box or a couple folders in a file cabinet. The important part is that you put everything important in this filing system and that you remember where you put it.

Digital Materials

The majority of material associated with your college search and the application process will be stored digitally. As this mass of information piles up, you’ll want to ensure you can keep track of all of your emails, text documents, web pages, and statistics.

Some tips to keep you organized:

  • Get acquainted with your email’s filing capabilities. Set up folders for different types of emails and be diligent about sorting them. This will save you a lot of time in the long run.
  • When you send emails, think about CC’ing your parents. They might remember a deadline that you forget and it will make them feel important.
  • Keep your desktop neat. Set up a filing system for all of your text documents, web pages, and applications.
  • Bookmark webpages (like Campus Explorer) you know you’ll use again and organize these bookmarks by school, region, or type.
  • Make a list of all the usernames and passwords you’ve compiled so far. Some of these passwords are going to be a pain – they’ll have to include numbers or uppercase letters or ampersands (&) or something – so it’s unlikely you’ll remember them all.
  • Back up your important files. Trust us, you don’t want to have to do all of this again. Once per lifetime is quite enough.

Planning ahead or a little behind?
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Related Tools and Checklists

High School Junior Timeline and Checklist
High School Senior Timeline and Checklist

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Organize Your College Application Process
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