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Email organization tips for high school students

If there’s one thing I know, because I hear it over and over from clients, it’s that students and parents are busy.

I’m a parent too, so I know this is true.

I also know that when we get busy, we can sometimes miss important information, and that important information often comes in the form of an email.

Your student might not have a whole lot of email to manage right now, but they will, especially once they hit Grade 12 and throughout university.

Part of the reason for this is because universities’ main form of communication with students is via email.

It is critical that your student reads each and every email from the universities they have applied to, so they don’t miss anything important.

These emails will contain important information like

· their status on acceptance,

· their scholarship offer,

· instructions on when and how to apply for residence,

· and when and how to register for classes –

and all of the really important information will come via email.


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Time sensitive information

Some of this information will be time sensitive:

1. if your student applied to a competitive or limited enrollment program, admission may be on a first come first served basis,

2. scholarship offers from universities normally have a specific time within which your student must respond to the offer,

3. choice of residence might be first come first served,

4. Registering for classes – best selection for courses and for creating your desired schedule for classes, is at the beginning when it first opens. If your student doesn't want all 8:30 a.m. classes, then their best chance to avoid it is to register as early as possible.

There may be some snail mail from the institution, but the main form of communication will be email

So I know I, and other adults, sometimes have difficulty with too much email, and for busy teenagers it may be even worse –emails can get lost, deleted, or more likely, simply go unread.

For example, I worked with a student who had over 600 unread emails in his account, the SAME ACCOUNT he used for corresponding with universities, teachers, etc.

Ah! That’s just asking for trouble!

Create a separate email for important information

So here’s an idea for your student to gain some email efficiency – create a separate email he or she ONLY uses for “professional” reasons.

So that means create a new Gmail account, for example.

This email should have a “professional” sounding name, like if your name is Jane Smith –, so not Remember people can see your email address, and they may judge you on your ability to appropriately separate your personal stuff you’re your “professional” stuff).

Your professional email should be used to correspond with people and organizations such as :

· universities,

· teachers,

· employers,

· volunteer managers,

· referees for scholarships

· scholarship organizations

· and any other more “official” people or groups.

Create separate folders

Once your student has the email set up, what should they do next?

They should create folders to separate the emails and store them.

So, say they’ve applied to Queen’s, Dal and UBC – make a separate folder for each one and keep all related emails in those folders. If they are applying to Ontario schools, they should also make a folder for OUAC.

They can also make a folder for scholarships, where all scholarship info is kept. This could include correspondence with scholarship organizations, requests for letter of reference, etc. and keep all of their correspondence organized so they can find whatever they need.

The last thing you want is for your student to ask someone for a personalized reference letter, have the referee spend a lot of time and energy on making a great one for you, and then losing it in your email, or deleting it, or whatever.

And then maybe create another folder called “Other” or MISC.

You get the picture – have your student set this up so it’s more of a system, rather than just willy nilly.

The best time to learn email best practices in Grade 11

And, as I’m always saying…the best time to plan for success in Grade 12 is in Grade 11. They can learn this strategy in Grade 11 so they get used to it, and then they’re all set up for Grade 12 when the emails really start to fly.

Now, this system only works, of course, if your student CHECKS this email account regularly.

If they need reminding to do it on a regular basis, have them set a notice on their electronic calendar to check it, until it becomes habit.


How email organization helps with scholarships

So how can this tip help with scholarships?

Where this email system will really come in handy when they’re searching for scholarships, and they sign up for email notifications from online search engines like has a listing of thousands of scholarships, and students can set up a profile based on various factors.

After they sign up they will start to be matched with scholarships based on their profile, and you can elect to have these matches emailed to you so you can review them, and decide if it’s a fit and you want to apply.

So, as soon as your student hits Grade 12, (and I mean in SEPTEMBER), they should sign up with, and create their scholarship profile, and start to be matched with scholarship opportunities.

Once Grade 12 hits they will have lots of other stuff to keep organized, so that’s when this new email address, and the folders, and this general organization system will come in REALLY handy.

And parents -- this should be done by the student, so they learn how to manage their own email.

We can help them to learn how and why it's important, and help them to get set up, and even remind them to check it, but the student should be taking ownership for their email.

This is a life skill they will use daily, and the sooner they learn how to manage it the better off they'll be.

Need help with scholarships? Contact me to discuss my services!

Happy emailing!

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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