Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Note: This post is for those applying to universities in the USA, however, the first few paragraphs can apply to anyone applying anywhere as they are generic tricks I have used to organize my lists.
I have begun applying to several Universities and I have found different tricks and tips to keep the process organized and make sure you don't miss the deadlines.
(Even if you have a counselor these methods can be useful for you)
You should start the process before/around the time applications open for your desired semester (e.g start in August if you are applying for the fall semester for the next year) if you want to be considered for scholarships (there is a better chance of getting scholarships when you apply before the 'Early Decision' deadline)
So the first, very obvious step is to shortlist your universities. The easiest way to do so is to first write down your requirements/factors in order of priority. Let's say you know what you want to major in, then your first priority will be whether the university offers your major, and then you can work out the rest of the factors. Here is an example list:
1. Major/Degree
2. Tuition/Total cost of attendance
3. State/Cost of living
4. Online rating/ranking of University
5. Percentage Acceptance

I followed the same process as above and then further reduced my list to get around 10 universities. If you are okay with applying to 10, then you can skip this paragraph, otherwise, continue reading. After I shortlisted 10 universities, I further shortlisted them based on tuition (as this was my main priority after 'Major'). My tip is to use a spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel to type down all your universities in rows and the different categories in columns. Putting all relevant information in an excel sheet (i.e. in one place) can help you further decide which universities you are more inclined towards. 
This is what your shortlisted "University" Column would look like:
The next step (optional: i.e only if you want to make it before the Early Decision deadline) is to add an extra column (preferably just next to the University column) with the application deadlines.

Ignore the numbers in the brackets, I've done that to calculate how many credits I'd have to do per semester to finish my selected course in 3 years
As you finish applications and send the required documents by mail to the universities, you can update your sheet like I have done so above. I used a light gray cell fill to indicate applications submitted and dark gray cell fill to indicate that I have sent my documents (Key shows the same below - Add a key below your main table so you don't forget what different colors mean!)

The deadline column will ensure all your cells are filled with dark gray fill (or whatever color you choose) before you miss the deadline. 
You can also set reminders a few days before the deadline on your phone or your computer to make sure you submit your application on time.

I also recommend creating organized folders on your PC to segregate documents for each university and make sure you have all documents necessary in each folder.

e.g. of inside a university folder (CL = covering letter)

How I've organized my universities folder

Just in case you don't know, the documents that you will be required to send to the universities will be:
1. High school transcripts
2. Marksheets
3. Certificates (if you have already graduated)
4. Resume
5. Statement of Purpose Essay (a.k.a Personal Statement Essay)
6. Recommendation Letters from 3 of your teachers
You may also have to send a copy of your passport
If you are a non-citizen, you will have to send some documents showing that your parents have enough funds (Financial support document, affidavit, etc) but your counselor will be the best to assist you with all of the above-mentioned documents (your counselor will also help make covering letters and labels so your documents can be couriered in the correct way).
You will also have to send your ACT/SAT scores to each university you apply to

Once you have finished all of the above, you can do one last thing while you wait for your letters.
Rank your universities so that if you get accepted in more than one university, you know which one you prefer over the other.
This is what my excel sheet looked like after rating and the corresponding key:

(column D in the above excel sheet image is the scholarship I have/will receive(d) from the universities. As of now, I've received an unofficial acceptance from Truman State University.

So that's about all I've done so far to keep my universities organized and make sure my applications have been submitted on time. 
If you have any questions be sure to leave them in the comments below!


  1. This was super useful. I seriously admire how organized you are!

    1. Thank you so much and I'm glad it was useful (: