Using Quip for My College Applications

By Rooz Mahdavian

With the release of the Common Application two weeks ago, I finally ran out of excuses; it was time to start my college applications. 

I had to somehow compile the last 4 years of my existence onto paper, and bundle it with essays, grades, score reports, and letters of recommendation (along with some forms even the DMV would be ashamed of). Seemed easy enough. A new folder was created and the journey began.

After scrubbing and organizing the various pieces of information on Quip, things suddenly seemed much more manageable. The organization was simple: one document for each piece of the application and a folder for the larger parts (like the essays). 

It was this simplicity, however, that made using Quip incredibly powerful. I was able to easily see what needed to be done by when, and to start planning for them way ahead of time. More importantly, I could clearly see the role each piece would play in my overall application and work on them with that perspective in mind. 

The essays became the most interesting (and nerve-wracking) thing to work on. I created an “Essay Ideas” document and added the first 3 or 4 that came to mind. As the week went on, new ideas would randomly pop into my head, and (thanks to Quip's mobile and offline support) I could always update the list. These spontaneous ideas proved to be far more interesting than the original, more obvious ones.

After finishing the first drafts that weekend, I excitedly invited my parents to the folder to get their feedback. That excitement died down as they began mercilessly scrutinizing my work.

What genuinely surprised me, though, was how quickly my parents got themselves up-to-date on what I had done and, without even asking, began working on other aspects of the application themselves. I kept most of the busy work in a central “College Application Task List”, and they instantly began contributing to it, finishing things I had planned to do myself.

They continued to do this throughout the application, planning more college visits and adding some volunteer work that I completely forgot. 

My parents also added, to my dismay, my grandparents and my little brother to the folder, and their jumble of comments and edits to the essay became one of the most unique family moments in recent memory; I even used a couple of their suggestions. 

This intuitive collaboration is really what makes Quip special. I've been able to accomplish a lot in just two weeks, and how quickly my parents (who are currently about 300 miles away) could hop on, get up-to-speed, and make their own contributions is just a testament to the flexibility of the platform.

In retrospect, it scares me how long I was planning to put these off.