Don’t Get Overwhelmed: Get Organized
This is the time of year when college applications cause students to stress. With schoolwork, SAT/ACT tests, essays, universities to visit and college applications, it can quickly spiral out of control. College will be one of the most exciting times in your life, but only if there are ways to stay focused.
The guide below covers College Applications, Scholarships, Financial Aid and how to organize all the information. There is also a free college application tracker that can be saved on any device and updated anytime. If you just started researching colleges, check out Start Your College Search with 3 Easy Steps.
A Free College Application and Scholarship Tracker
What is an application tracker and how does it work?
One of the things that really makes college applications overwhelming is all the dates and information. There had to be a way to make this process easier for everyone. The spreadsheet tracks the application and scholarship deadlines, requirements and login information. Scroll down to see a few screen shots.
Since it is saved in your Google Drive, it can be shared with anyone and updated anywhere. Share it with your parents so you can keep them up to date on your progress. You will earn major parent points for this move! Give a copy to your counselor or tutor as well so they can help you.
Steps To Download
Steps to download:
1. Click here to open the Google spreadsheet
2. Login to your Google Account
3. To edit, select “File” and “Make a Copy”
4. This will automatically save a copy to your Google Drive Account
5. Notice there are two sheets. One for College Applications and another for Scholarships.
What Needs to be Updated on the Spreadsheet?
What fields do I need to update or change?
Start to write in your colleges on the first sheet. If you already know what your colleges are looking for, just fill in the information. Otherwise, start researching. You can save the College websites using the link icon. In the Requirements or Completed sections, select “Yes” or “No”. The final column is designed to automatically tell you if the College Applications are completed or still need to be sent.
*The FASFA section needs to be updated to reflect your state of residence. Check the FASFA state deadlines here.
What are a few other ways I can stay on track?
If spreadsheets are not your cup of tea, you could still save a copy, print it and then write the information. However, this might also be the prefect opportunity to challenge yourself and learn something new. Give it a try. Check out the original here!
How do I apply for college?
There are two options for submitting College Applications.
- Regular mail-in Application
- The Common Application ( Common App) A newer option that allows students to apply to multiple schools with one application. There are over 500 schools that accept the Common App.
How will I know which one to use?
After you write your list of preferred schools, use the Common App and see which colleges use this option. Then, you can get the other college applications from schools that use the mail-in method.
What kinds of information will they want?
Colleges usually want to know your academic history, SAT/ACT scores, basic personal information, extra curricular activities and any awards or special recognition. Some colleges may require less or more information. Just make sure to pay attention to the details and update the Application tracker for special requests.
College Applications will usually ask if you have applied for Federal or State Financial Aid. If you are wanting Financial Aid, you will need to fill out a free FASFA Application.
Where do I find my State’s FASFA deadlines?
The deadlines change depending on your state so make sure you look them up and update the second spreadsheet.
How do I fill out the FASFA?
The Department of Education has a easy to read guide that will walk you through the process.
The daunting task of paying for college, can be made easier with scholarships. Do not say to yourself, “I don’t have a high enough GPA” or “Scholarships are only for Math and Science”. Use the search engines below and it may surprise you what is available. For example, did you know if you submitted a funny experience, it may provide $1000 to a school of your choice? Check out your options.
Scholarship searches have been around for awhile. Student reviews are mixed, but they do give you a solid place to start. Once, you start researching, update the ones that interest you on the scholarship tracker.
The top scholarship searches:
*Disclaimer~ These websites may require you to create an account and ask for an email address and other contact information. Make sure the read their privacy policies before signing up. You can opt-out so advertising agencies will not contact you.
How do I apply for a scholarship?
Research and enter the requirements in your Scholarship tracker. Remember to double check requirements and pay attention to any extra details. Some may ask for an extra essay while other may ask for proof of eligibility. If you have never applied for scholarships, read this article from College Board.
What about State specific scholarships?
Once you have an idea of where you would like to go to college, make sure you research scholarships available in your State. Sometimes the sites above miss State/City or School specific scholarships. Don’t miss out on free money so check to see if there is an aid office in your State.
For example, Oregon has a database with a variety of aid options. Ask college registrar’s offices, search local businesses and network with friends and family to find other ideas to pay for school.
Is one scholarship for 10k is better than applying for lots of 1k awards?
Definitely not! Sure the larger scholarship amounts sound amazing, but they also have more people competing and strict standards for winners. It may take a little more time, but sometimes the smaller awards are easier to get and keep once you are in college. Apply to everything that interests you and do not get caught up with the dollar amounts.
Relax a Little
Getting ready for college maybe stressful, but if you organize your ideas, you could save time and energy. Please use the Application tracker and make it work for you! Do your best and apply to wherever you want to go. What college you attend does not define you as a person or ruin your possibilities in the future. So relax a little!
Good luck with all those College Applications!