There’s a ridiculous amount of things to keep track of when you’re planning for college: testing timelines, college application requirements for each school, SAT/ACT registration deadlines, application deadlines, financial aid deadlines… (There are a million deadlines – I could go on for days.)

It’s helpful to have a few tools handy to make this unwieldy process a little more…wieldy. And to save at least a few hairs from turning prematurely gray.

1. Buy a crazy big, dry-erase wall calendar to see the entire year at once.

It’ll take a big space on your wall, but it’s an invaluable tool for getting a good perspective on what’s needed before those applications are submitted to colleges and tracking all of those deadlines. I use the At-A-Glance Wall Calendar in my office.

I add lots of things there, and it’s honestly big enough that your whole family could even use it! Get dry erase markers in multiple colors, and then use one color for different categories or for different members of the family. All of the college stuff on mine’s in black, vacations in green, personal to-dos in blue. You get the gist.

2. Have your teen register for a separate email account.

The floodgates will open with emails as soon as your student registers on the College Board website and takes the PSAT, and when you start signing up at different scholarship sites to learn what your teen’s eligible for. Seriously, folks – even Facebook doesn’t send you this many alerts.The best thing you can do is have your high schooler register for a separate email account to be used solely for the college planning process instead of using a personal email. Gmail is a great option because it’s so easy to create an account. Name it something like “yourkidsname.college@gmail.com.” Just don’t forget about it and be sure to keep an eye on it!

3. Create a College Admissions binder.

Use this as a central place to save and file important bits of information, like the following:

  • Awards and honors received
  • Record of  extracurricular activities
  • Usernames and passwords for college applications
  • Brainstorming sheet for essay topics
  • Documents received directly from colleges your child is considering

4. Download mobile apps to help keep things in one place.

Online tools and apps like Evernote and Trello are helpful for organizing and tracking important college planning information and sharing with your teen. Google Drive is still my favorite, though – probably because I use it all the time and it seems to be a little more universal than the other two.

What organizational tips can you share to make the college planning process a little cleaner? Leave a comment below!

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