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Do Your Best with Apps! Get Organized!

The key to reducing application stress and getting apps done on time is organization, as many successful college applicants will testify.

Here are three common ways to get all your application tasks done without hitting the panic button.

The Folder

Set up a folder for each college you are applying to. Put all paperwork related to your application in the folder, including:

  • All correspondence between you and the college (including printouts of e-mail messages and notes from phone conversations with admission officers)
  • A copy of your entire application, even if you sent it electronically
  • Other documents, such as completed financial aid forms, transcript requests, and letters of recommendation

The Application Calendar

Fill in a calendar with application deadlines and test dates. Use different colors for different colleges. Put the calendar where you will see it every day, whether that means taping it up in your locker, attaching it to your bathroom mirror, or putting it on your phone. Here's what to put on the calendar:

  • Deadlines for all parts of your college applications, such as recommendation letters, and transcripts
  • Your own personal deadlines, such as starting your essay
  • Test dates, including registration deadlines
  • Any scholarship application deadlines

The Application Chart

Many students find it helpful to display all the tasks needed to complete an application in a chart or spreadsheet. Make a separate chart for each college. Here are just some of the tasks that could appear on such a chart:


XYZ College      
Action to Take Tasks Deadline Completed
Write draft of personal essay. Outline topics, review with Mom, and write draft on chosen topic. Aug 1 Aug 1
Revise essay. Review draft with English teacher. Revise accordingly. Repeat. Sept 15 Sept 10
Finalize essay. Ask parent to proof essay. Make corrections and proof again. Oct 15 Oct 1
Arrange for recommendation letters. Supply forms, due dates, and stamped envelopes addressed to the admissions department. One month before due date Jan 3
Send school report and transcript to college. Submit to counselor the school report and transcript request forms supplied by high school and college. One month before due date Jan 3
Thank recommenders. Send note of thanks to each recommender. Jan 10 Jan 5
Send FAFSA results to colleges. Enter college ID code in the college list section of the FAFSA. Submit FAFSA. One week after FAFSA opens (Jan 1) Jan 7
Complete and review application. Check that all fields are filled in, all parts are complete, and all written responses are error-free. Three weeks before due date Jan 12
Submit application. Check that credit card information is accurate and confirm receipt online. Two weeks before due date Jan 15
Confirm application arrived. E-mail or call admissions office to confirm receipt. Two weeks after app. is sent Feb 1

Tips for Application Success

Create a Command Center. Decide where you will keep your folders, calendar, charts, etc. Just make sure it isn't the bottom of your backpack or under your laundry.

Use your system consistently. Spend quality time in your command center every week. Review where you are in the application process with each college and assign yourself upcoming high priority tasks.

Find out your high school's process and timeline for sending transcripts and recommendations. You don't want to miss deadlines just because you "didn't know" how requests should be submitted and when they are due.

What's Next?

For Students Age 18 and Older

Have you received a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit card?

Learn how to qualify for a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit Card


1st Financial Bank believes students who pick colleges wisely will also want to learn how to use credit cards wisely.

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COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

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Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.