Whether you’re applying for college, grad school, or a new job, having a few places where you can keep all of that information organized and track your progress is absolutely crucial. When you’re juggling multiple applications at once, it’s all too easy to accidentally let something fall through the cracks if you’re not organized and on top of things. Today’s post contains the four steps you should take to organize your application process and save yourself from that moment of horror that comes from realizing you missed out on something important.
List of Schools/Positions/Etc.
Rather obviously, the very first thing you want to have is a list of all the schools and/or positions that you’re applying for. This can be something you establish in its entirety up-front (like you usually do when applying to schools), or it can be a constantly growing document (as is typically the case if you’re applying to jobs). But having a complete list of where you’re applying is the groundwork for everything that comes next.
Individual Application Checklists
Now you’re at the point where you’re actually filling out applications. The fun thing about applying for literally anything is that, as much as people like to claim that application processes are getting more and more “streamlined” and “uniform” (I’m looking at you, LSAC), the reality is that every school/job is going to have its own set of requirements that’s ever-so-slightly different from other places. Maybe an employer wants a cover letter that answers one specific question, or a college wants a supplemental essay about why you want to go there, or a law school wants to know every speeding ticket you’ve ever gotten (most don’t, but some do – reading the fine print is important, y’all). Building an individual list of to-do items for each application can help you see where things can cross-over and where you’ll have to do completely different work.
So, you’ve submitted all your applications and made sure all your materials match up. Now comes the virtual paper trail. No matter what you’re applying for, emails will almost certainly abound, and it’s so important that you don’t let that communication get lost in the shuffle. Create a folder to sort all your emails related to your application process into – that way, it’s easy to find if you ever need it.
Better yet, if you know the email addresses that communication will come from (like an admissions office email from a college or a grad school), set up a “smart mailbox” that’ll instantly filter all those emails into a separate folder – this’ll save you from accidentally missing an interview request in those millions of marketing emails we all get bombarded with on a daily basis.
Now comes the fun part: the waiting game. This is typically where the most anxiety is going to happen, so having a centralized place to track your timelines is going to serve as a major relief for that particular stress point. I’m using my bullet journal as my tracker (you can see how I’m doing that here), but you can also use an online spreadsheet or the printable worksheet I’ve just uploaded to the Espresso and Ambition Printable Library! For school applications, I’ve labelled the columns “date submitted,” “date interviewed,” “date marked complete,” and “final decision,” and for job applications, I’ve labelled them “date submitted,” “date interviewed (first round)”, “date interviewed (second round),” “date followed-up,” and “decision.”
What do you do with that? Well, it serves as a resource for putting all those emails into one place, and keeping an eye on when you may need to double-check things. If your application hasn’t been marked complete even after your interview, maybe it’s time to check with the school and see if anything is missing? If you interviewed and haven’t heard back in two weeks, that’s probably a good indicator to send a follow-up email! Keeping a timeline tracker will save you from chasing things down or panicking because you haven’t heard back yet.
Alright, now that you’ve got all that down, take a deep breath. You’ve got this. Cheers to getting into your dream school or landing that dream job.