10 Organizing Tips for Tackling Senior Year of High School

School, homework, activities, jobs, SATs, college search, friends… When you are a senior in high school your time is managed pretty well—by everyone other than you! Here are some sure fire tips for staying organized during your senior year.

Use an academic planner to stay organized. Whether you use a paper planner or electronic calendar, make sure your planner is set up as a grid system so you can see your week at a glance. Record all your college visits, after school activities, class assignments and application due dates. Include a row in the planner for “College” so that you can plan your essay writing, SAT studying with your class assignments and exam dates.

Set achievable goals. You are more likely to be complete your tasks if they are broken down into manageable parts. It is much easier to write one paragraph for your essay in an afternoon than it is to complete the entire Common Application. Check your planner for available pockets of time and schedule accordingly. Setting unrealistic goals sets you up for failure.

Free Gifts. Free periods and study halls are gifts! Use them! Focus on your assignments and to do list in your planner.

Keep your work with you. You can always get an assignment done whether you are on the bus after an away game or at a doctor’s appointment. Be mindful of your time robbers!

Organize your environment. It is just as important to have your bedroom, study area or back pack organized. Organizing these zones will help you stay on schedule and focused. By keeping your areas organized you will avoid the dreaded “I am looking for that teacher’s reference to hand in and I have no idea where it is!”

Summer time. Use your down time during the summer to get a jump on your common application and essays. Better to work on these important application essentials when you don’t have the extra pressure of homework, test prep, etc.

Set up a special organizing system especially for your college search. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the college mailers, supplements, essays, recommendations, etc. that take over your life senior year. Use a rolling file cart, milk crate or desk top filing system so it is easily accessible and visual. Create a file for each school so you can easily drop in any brochures, supplements, financial aid information, etc. specific to each school.

Check it off. Staple a checklist for each college with name of school, application due dates, requirements for references, essays, portfolio, financial aid, etc. to the front of each folder. Transfer all important dates to your master calendar or planner so you stay on track.

Do your best work on paper. Remember there is no going back once you hit send! Print out multiple copies of the Common Application and any supplements required by the colleges you are applying to. Answer all the questions FIRST on paper and then transfer your answers to the computer form. Extra Tip! Be mindful of word and character count. Some essays require a certain amount of words; others count characters.

Organize your college visits. My daughter, Madelyn, a college graduate, offers this advice. “Create an evaluation sheet to use as a “brain dump” after each visit. It will help you differentiate the information you receive from each info session and campus tour. “Brain dump” immediately after the visit while your thoughts are still fresh in your head. It also helped to organize my notes so they would be useable when writing my supplemental essays.” And bring a notebook and the school’s file folder. Place any handouts that you receive directly into your folder so that nothing gets lost between the visit and home. You can easily transfer the folder back into the file cabinet when you get home.

Tackle your senior year with these sure fire tips!

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