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How I use Asana to help students applying for college abroad stay organized

When students or families come to me wondering how to apply for college abroad, one of the most common things I hear is that they just don't know where to begin, what to focus on or when.

They often find themselves stuck in analysis paralysis, bogged down with so many details and data from who knows how many sources or websites, struggling to cut through the noise--ultimately not able to take any action.

They can see the end goal, but the path to get there on their own is like trying to read printed out MapQuest directions in the car, while billboards on every corner tell them a different way to go.

They're just overwhelmed by it all.

But this is where I come in--helping students stay organized with a clear vision of what needs to happen and when (in addition to providing insight based on my previous admissions and university work experience).

London city centre

Thinking back to my days studying project management in Australia, I like to say that the process of applying for a bachelor's or master's overseas is like being a project manager.

There is a lot to organize, and there are certain steps that have to be completed before being able to move on to the next one.

For example, you can't jump to submitting applications before writing the personal statement, and you can't write the personal statement before knowing what you want to study.

It would be great if those were the only two steps involved, but there are actually several phases.

With the students I work with, I break it down into four: 1) the research phase, 2) preparation phase, 3) application phase and 4) decision phase.

And to fully visualize these phases, my students will now have access to what I think is the best project management software out there, Asana (try it free for 30 days).

I also often say--and it's probably true for a lot of students--that if I don't write something down for them, it won't get done (at least maybe not on time).

If I write it in a spreadsheet for them, it probably still won't get done on time.

But by writing it in Asana for them, it has to get done on time.

In fact, in the Asana templates I've built, every step is written down--in the form of a list of tasks on individual private project boards, of which both students and parents alike have access.

These project boards are further customizable based on the needs of each student, but it's also where they can find the key links they'll need to access regularly, overview documents, a link to my Calendly to easily schedule meetings, notes from said meetings and more--a one-stop shop.

It's also where we can all monitor how we're tracking and see if anything is overdue or upcoming.

Here is an example of the 'home page' of a college planning project for my 3-month-old, Marco.

He's getting started really early, and as his mom/consultant, I'm happy to see that fortunately, he's on track!

Asana example

My favorite feature, however, is the ability to assign tasks to the student, parent or myself and add due dates to hold them/me accountable:

  • Examples of student tasks include completing the personality and interests profiles in Unifrog, a research project to compare universities and filling out a worksheet related to their activities and skills.

  • Examples of parent tasks include completing the Parent Questionnaire, sending me transcripts and setting up the first meeting, which they're encouraged to attend.

  • Examples of my tasks include conducting an in-depth academic analysis and review, program and admissions research and providing feedback on personal statement drafts.

And because people feel organized in different ways (I'm a fan of color-coded lists), there are also different views depending on preference.

List view

List view in Asana

Board view

Board view in Asana

Timeline view

Timeline view in Asana

Finally, my clients can also download the Asana mobile or desktop apps for even more convenience and also set up push or email notifications when their upcoming tasks are due--saving me from having to send regular reminders (it's all automated, yay!).

Those notifications--while pesky at times--really do hold people accountable.

And while there are a lot of useful tools out there similar to Asana (which also offers a robust free version), to me, Asana's premium features are so worth it, allowing me to offer even more value for my clients.

Goodbye spreadsheets and paralysis; hello action and results!

Asana banner


Interested in applying for college or grad school abroad?

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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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