Organization is the key to an effective school search. Try some of these suggestions for organizing your research.
Create a Filing System
- Get a file cabinet, drawer or basket — something that will keep folders upright. You may choose to maintain an electronic filing system instead of, or alongside, a paper-based system.
- Use file folders. You'll need at least one for each school. Clearly label the folder with the school's name.
- Store everything to do with a school in its own folder: catalogs, correspondence, forms, brochures, interview notes, and your questions.
- If a hard copy folder gets too full, use accordion-style or hanging folders. Designate the larger folders for the schools and break their contents into sections, such as 'Correspondence,' 'Forms' and 'Brochures.'
Besides file folders, you may want the following supplies:
- Colored markers
- Self-stick notes in different colors
- Good quality paper — you may use this later when you apply to schools
- Envelopes (in various sizes)
- Postage stamps
Get a Calendar
- Designate one calendar for all your scheduling and deadlines.
- Mark everything clearly.
- Use a different color for each school.
Create Contact Lists
- Make a contact list of phone numbers, email addresses, URLs and addresses. Your contacts may be admissions officers, alumni, scholarship providers, etc.
- Create a list of individuals you may want to use as references in the application process.
Create an Evaluation Worksheet
Create your own ranking system. Items you want to compare probably include reputation, size, atmosphere (from website and campus visit), tuition, special programs and location. Consider what is important to you and ask others for advice.
ACT has a sample evaluation worksheet you can use. Do your evaluations, make notes and keep the worksheet handy for quick reference.
Once you rate each school, compare the worksheets and see how each school measures up. If you find this worksheet really works for you, print one out for your parents. Let them rate the schools you're interested in and compare notes.