Raise your hand if you’re a high school senior, and your college applications to-do list looks more like a to-do tower - shadowing over you with seemingly endless tasks and deadlines to manage and stay on top of. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Applying to college has always brought with it an outrageous number of things to do and to track, and finding a process to manage everything feels like a full time job in itself. Decades past have left students limited to pen and paper to-do lists, old-school hard copy planners, or extensive spreadsheets saved on a desktop. But as a student today, you thankfully have a wealth of tools and technology at your fingertips to help you stay on track during the college admissions cycle.
Here are the top five tools we recommend this upcoming college application season - take a look!
CollegeAdvisor.com is an online platform that centralizes students’ college applications, enabling them to manage their deadlines and tasks in one place. And, CollegeAdvisor.com connects high school seniors with accomplished college graduates who act as mentors throughout the college application process for essay reviews or college advising chats ranging from scholarship questions to interview prep.
- Benefits: CollegeAdvisor.com is a one-stop shop to track all deadlines related to applications. And, mentors across all top universities chat with students about their personal college experiences, offering guidance on how to manage the stress of applications and how to weigh possible decisions. Mentors also provide line-by-line edits and detailed feedback on the ever-important Common App / Coalition essay and school supplemental essays.
- Challenges: CollegeAdvisor.com is an up-and-coming app, so its first year of operations may have several iterations of technology to ensure comprehensive functionality and support.
Naviance Student - Naviance Student is a tool within the larger Naviance platform, which is an educational companion platform used by schools and school districts to help parents and students manage educational development and career readiness.
- Benefits: Naviance Student that lets students and parents explore schools, majors and career choices, providing comprehensive guidance on which path you may want to consider. It also compares your SAT scores and GPA to past students from your school who have applied to colleges you're exploring.
- Challenges: Naviance Student is only accessible if provided by your high school or school district level. If you’re interested in the technology, check with your school leadership on whether it's available or if they may consider purchasing it. But if not offered by your school, you're out of luck.
College Hunch - If you prefer spreadsheets to to-do lists, check out College Hunch to easily search and compare schools.
- Benefits: The app lets you search a wide range of schools and then allows you to create customizable tables to compare up to 15 schools at once. You can compare things such as admissions rates, tuition costs, and student body demographics - making it easy to see how your top choices stack up against one another.
- Challenges: There’s little guidance to place metrics like the above in context. You’re left on your own to assess trade-offs and consider pros and cons - which can get overwhelming when considering so many options.
Todoist - Todoist is one of the many personal productivity platforms that have emerged where you can set deadlines and reminders this college application season.
- Benefits: It's free, and you can create to-do lists categorized by different topics or projects - or in this case, colleges. You can set deadlines and get email reminders of pending due dates, bringing a 21st century update to the standard to-do list.
- Challenges: Todoist is not specifically geared toward college applications - which means you have to devise your own system and strategy of organizing tasks and to-do lists. There’s also no career-specific advice or guidance through the app.
Common App OnTrack - Odds are, you’re well acquainted with the Common App. In 2015 they launched CommonApp On Track, a mobile companion that allows students to track deadlines, collect references and monitor their application progress on mobile.
- Benefits: Accepted by 800 colleges and universities, the Common App is the OG of college application innovations - streamlining the application process by enabling students to submit standard application information only once via a common form.
- Challenges: The app only supports the Common App - it doesn’t offer any guidance on school searches, tips for applying, or personal support in the application process. Plus, so many schools also have supplemental essays, which aren't supported by the OnTrack mobile app. There have also been reports of technical issues, which often make it buggy to use.
There are many new tools and technologies when it comes to college applications. Think about the benefits and challenges of each, and how those line up with what may be most helpful to you in the application process. Best of luck applying!