Do you have an extra 200 hours in your life? I don’t. Does your teen? Probably not.

Yet, that is how much time you should allow for the college application process. These hours do not include visiting colleges, researching majors, or SAT/ACT prep. These 200 hours are just the time it takes to write essays, fill out the applications, gather financial information, complete supplemental essays, and much more. I get stressed just thinking about it!

If you have a very organized teen who stays on top of things, I applaud you. You are one of the lucky few. If you are like most parents of teens, including me, their room is a vortex with all your missing dinnerware and piles of clothes. Their backpack is filled with crumpled papers. You are constantly asked, “Mom, where is this? Mom, where is that?”

Now, fast forward to the fall of their senior year, and you are frantically trying to get college applications done. Where will you find 200 extra hours? Oh, and your teen is still in school, has homework and tests, extracurricular activities, and is trying to enjoy their last year of high school. Are you starting to feel stressed? Are there arguments between you and your teen as you search for documented volunteer hours, grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, notes drafted for essays? 

Being organized is a life skill that a teen should learn before they “leave the nest.” As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach them. But what if you need some help in this area too? 

Here are some tips and tricks to get your family organized:

Have a Place for Everything. There are certain items that you use most every day. Make sure these items have a permanent place in your home. Put your keys on a key holder near the door or your wallet in your desk drawer. Your teen’s backpack gets placed by the door after they have used it for the day. When your things are put away in their proper place, you’ll feel organized, and it will save time.

Make a List. When you have tasks to complete, make a list of everything you need to do to reach completion. Writing it down will help you visualize what needs to get done. Lists also ensure that you don’t forget to do anything. Keeping track of tasks is a crucial skill for you to model for your teen.

If all of the college prep legwork is overwhelming, I have a great tool for you and your teen. It’s the My Ideal College Countdown Organizer. It tells you the steps to take and provides a place to keep track of it all.

This tool was created for high school students to fill with community service time, award certificates, school activities, and other pertinent information from freshman to senior year. The organizer provides a central location for documents and offers year-by-year tips to help prepare for the college and scholarship application processes. Click here to learn more.

The college planning process doesn’t need to be stressful and time-consuming. I’m here to help! Schedule a complimentary strategy session with me to help get you and your teen started.

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