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Staying Organized Now Paves the Way to Success Later

If I’ve said it once, I must have said it a million times: Students, check your email! March is the month where admissions decisions are generally released. Even if students have applied to some institutions early, March is the month that it all comes together. Admission decisions, financial aid awards, portal updates, and deadlines seem to be buzzing around at high speed! So how do families keep all of this information organized? Organization is paramount in accepting the best-fitting admissions offer.

Students, check your emails!

I can’t tell you the number of times an admissions representative has called me and told me they’d been trying to reach one of my students with no luck. They had additional questions based on the application information, and sometimes they wanted to offer the student a scholarship opportunity but the student failed to accept it in time.

Make checking your emails a part of your daily routine. If you’d like, create folders or a color-coded system to keep important messages separate. Even laundry machines in college alert students when their wash is done by sending an email!


Portals and Application Trackers should have been set up with each college the student applied to. An alert to do this would have come… via email. Portals show which pieces of the student’s application have been received, which, if any, are missing, and any next steps a student needs to take for admission. There can also be options to accept or decline admissions directly on the portal, and check the status of student financial aid.

Admissions offices may also post admission decisions on the portal first before communicating in additional ways. Similar to email, if admissions representatives can’t reach you here your application may be incomplete.

Info, info everywhere!

Which financial aid package went with this school? Wait, and this school costs how much? And… What program was I accepted to at this other school? ((pulls hair out)) It’s never too late to get organized. Make sure you keep school-specific information together. Maybe it’s in a Google Sheet or on a whiteboard, or on different colored Post-It notes on a bedroom wall. Students and families need the whole picture in order to make an informed decision. 

If you’ve started out organizing your college materials one way and it’s no longer working well, don’t be afraid to change it. Finding a method that works for you is what’s most important, not sticking to something because it’s established. And going through all of your material again to reorganize it will be helpful!

Deadlines are real!

May 1st is the national deadline for students to accept or decline admission offers from colleges; it’s called the SIR date and stands for Statement of Intent to Register. May 1st is a hard deadline and needs to be kept in focus throughout the decision-making process. When reviewing organized information, don’t feel pressured to make a choice by an arbitrary date. If you entered into a contract in the admissions cycle (Early Decision), then the date to confirm admission may differ. It’s important to have ALL of the information before moving toward May 1.

May might feel like a world away in March, and a lot can happen in that time. Staying organized and on top of your deadlines can decrease stress as you move toward the SIR date. And when you have a choice and college package you are happy with and excited about, accept the offer either in an email to Admissions or through your portal.

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