High school students have a lot to juggle during their college search.
First, they need to research which colleges would be a good fit. Then, they need to whittle that list down, decide where to apply and gather their application materials, all while keeping track of various admissions deadlines for each school.
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Staying on top of the myriad choices, requirements, deadlines and next steps is no easy task, even for the most organized students, says Jeff Ream, a counselor at North Tahoe High School in California.
"Every student gets confused," he says. "I talk to them every year about where they're at in the process and they don't even know that they were supposed to log in after they submit their application and check their status and continue with the application."
There is one new way students can organize their college search: mobile apps.
"I think it's a growing trend, but I do not think it's a mainstream idea yet, at least in my experience," Ream says.
High school students can dip their toes in the mobile college search waters with these three apps.
1. Naviance Student: The mobile version of the popular college planning tool allows students to research schools and save favorites, as well as create a to-do list that ties tasks to a specific college. They can also connect with counselors from that school.
"That's probably one of the most useful apps out there," says Ream.
The app is free and available for iPhone or iPod touch, but students must attend a high school that subscribes to the Naviance platform in order to use the app.
2. Max U: Created by Upromise, a college savings program from Sallie Mae, this app has a checklist that includes transcripts, letters of recommendations and essays. Students can also get tips for ACT and SAT exam prep, as well as advice on factors to consider when selecting a college.
While students cannot search for colleges within the Max U app, they can keep track of potential schools and rate them based on cost, distance from home and how likely they are to be accepted.
3. ACT College Search: This app from ACT Inc., which administers the popular college entrance exam, is currently available only on Apple devices.
Students can use ACT College Search to browse colleges by location, major, size and cost, among other criteria. The free app includes a basic profile for most two- and four-year colleges and students can save favorites they want to research further.