Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dental Notebook: staying organized and sane through application process

Today is the most beautiful day in the history of humanity. Except I can hear two boys crying outside my window with a third yelling: "I didn't do anything!"

Now that my application process is over, I have one strategy that have kept me sane throughout the application process: centralizing all dental progress to one "Dental Notebook". And I mean a real physical paper notebook.

I didn't like taking my netbook on interviews (I've dropped my laptop while catching a cab). It is such a hassle on airplanes with rules about electronic devices and the seat-table. For most of my interviews, I ended up carrying my Dental Notebook plus a clipboard with my AADSAS application and supplemental materials.

Here is my page for University of Pennsylvania. I kept a list of Quick Facts at the top with basic information about the school including the application due date, and a Correspondence section where I kept track of emails, mails, and phone calls. The rest of the page was for Brainstorming: facts about the school, questions I thought up, plus any other relevant comments about the program-school-location.

On my way back from interviews, I also used the back to centralize my notes from the trip. I would leave it on my lap, scribble a few notes, fall asleep, wake up to eat the free peanuts, repeat. By the time my plane landed in Houston, I had a whole page of notes from the interview in one place, organized while the information was still fresh in my mind. I also had my dental school Happy Points here to refer back to.

For me, this was a simple and effective way to keep track of everything in one place so that I didn't go crazy. I'm very visual and hands-on, so it helped to be able to play with different colors, add on post-its, and highlight certain points. I'm sure all this can be done on the computer if you are more tech-savvy than I am, especially with one of those beautiful tablets.

How have you kept organized through the application process? 
Did anyone use Excel or OneNote to keep track of application statuses?