Most students may think of the fall as the time to start tackling these, but many do (and all should) take advantage of the summer to get their applications started.
Regardless of whether the student has begun the process or is waiting until the fall, the prospect of multiple applications can cause students, and parents, a great deal of stress. What’s key to working on the applications successfully is to plan ahead so that everyone knows exactly what has to get done.
To this end, I recommend making a spreadsheet in Excel, Google Docs, or a similar program where you can list each school, its application requirements, and all incremental due dates. Then, the student has her list in one place and can consult it as she moves through the applications and essays. The spreadsheet should include the various essays and supplemental essays required by each school, as well as each type of documentation required, such as recommendations, testing, financial aid forms, and additional transcripts.
A student needs to spend the time to put the document together, but I can promise it will save much more time—and stress—in the long run.