Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time Management through the College Application Process

If your family is like mine, this fall is already stressful for your high school senior.  Balancing schoolwork and extra curricular activities is always difficult but add applying to college to the mix, and the schedule appears almost unmanageable.  No wonder your teen may be having trouble prioritizing working on his or her applications.

As I talk about time management with my advisees and my daughter, I realize different students find different methods for organizing their college application process.  Yet I think the HOW is just as important as the WHAT.  By this point, most students know what steps they need to accomplish to finish their college applications.  We parents might help our teens better by discussing with them how they plan to manage their tasks, rather than constantly reminding them of what tasks they need to accomplish in any given week. 

Here are a few suggestions to help students devise an effective time management method—

1) Remember Stephen Covey’s popular time management system back in the 90s?  Covey’s son Sean adapted his father’s Four Time Quadrants as an effective tool to show teens how to prioritize their activities in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Covey labelled the Four Quadrants
as: Procrastinator, Prioritizer, Yes-Man, and Slacker.  Too often urgent homework deadlines or club/sport activities take the place of more important but less time bound goals.   Here is a recap of Sean Covey’s Habit Three: Put First Things First.   After prioritizing daily, weekly and monthly activities, fill out your own Four Quadrants chart and highlight the tasks that appear in the second quadrant. 

2) Make a master list of all the tasks you need to complete the college application process from registering on the Common Application website, to signing up for standardized tests, to asking teachers for recommendations.  Using Covey’s Four Quadrants, prioritize the items on the list.  At the beginning of each week, identify a block of time you can devote to college applications.  Include a few of the to-do items from the master list on each weekly schedule. 

3) Use an online calendar to set up self-paced “deadlines” for college essay drafts.  Schedule these deadlines least a couple of weeks before any real application deadlines to allow for feedback from teachers/ other trusted adults or friends, revising and editing.  Include automatic reminders sent to email a few days before each deadline.

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