Organization Tips: Surviving College Applications

Dozens of college essays are piling up. You have so much homework. You are totally overwhelmed. How can you possibly submit all of your applications by their deadlines?


Looks like it’s time for some… ORGANIZATION.

Here are my tips for keeping the application process as stress-free as possible.

Go one school at a time.

Don’t confuse yourself by trying to work on supplements for different schools at the same time! You may accidentally write two essays about similar topics for one application. The application you send to each individual school should include everything you want that school to know, so it helps to work through all its requirements to make sure you’ve told the admissions officer the full, coherent story about yourself.

Create a schedule.

Keep track of all of your deadlines and everything you need to get done. You may even want to set calendar reminders on your computer or phone to make sure you know when important due dates are coming up. But always plan to finish your essays at least a week before you actually need to. It’s good to have extra time because you never know when you might have technical difficulties submitting. Or perhaps something else in your life, such as an extracurricular or family commitment, could come up. If you can, try to finish all of your essays before your final exams so you can fully devote your time and energy to properly studying. It’s also nice if you can finish before winter break, so you can enjoy the holidays stress-free.


Set aside some work time.

If you can’t seem to find time to work on college essays because you are always doing homework, set aside a few hours each week completely dedicated to writing these applications no matter what else might be going on. Little by little, you’ll get everything done, as long as you don’t blow off this scheduled work time.

Reuse essays.

Reuse or adapt essays for different schools whenever you possibly can. This will save a TON of time. Sometimes it can require adding a paragraph or two but it’s way better than starting completely fresh. The only supplements you can’t adapt are the “Why our school?” essays. These should be very specific to the programs and opportunities at each school.

Don’t wait.

Don’t put off writing essays till after you hear from your early decision school. This can be tempting because if you get in, you won’t ever have to do the work for the other schools. But if you get rejected or deferred, you’ll likely be stuck with a few weeks full of nothing but writing essays. Take this possible stress away by getting stuff done early.

Save, save, save!

Imagine what a tragedy it would be if all your hard work were to disappear forever!


Save all of your drafts. Back up your computer regularly. Put your essays on Google Drive. Send yourself an email of all your essays. The more of these methods you use, the safer your documents will be. You never know when a terrible accident could happen.


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  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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