The Internet makes practically everything — from bidding
to banking — faster, easier and more accessible. That is why
60 percent of last year’s applicants to the University opted
for the convenience of the online application in lieu of the
traditional paper forms.

Although the total number of applicants declined last year, the
number of online applicants rose 10 percent.

“It was so much easier,” Engineering freshman Adam
Smith said of the online application.

““They are catering to the new generation,”
LSA freshman Kerri Gross said.

The online system breaks the application into sections, which
can be completed separately. Online forms can be completed in one
sitting, or the applicant can revisit the application several
times. The information entered online is sent directly to the
University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, so there is
less chance that the forms will be lost than when paper
applications go through the mail.

Despite the convenience and popularity of the online
applications, some students still prefer using traditional
methods.

“I was more confident that I would get everything done,
that I would be able to double-check it and that I would not miss
anything,” said LSA freshman Jennie Hegwood, who applied
using the paper application.

Such concerns prompted the University to equip the online system
with an “Application Inspector,” which notifies
applicants immediately if any part of the application is left
incomplete.

By contrast, the applicant using paper forms must wait until the
application is received by the Office of Admissions, filed and
manually checked for completion, at which point the student will be
notified if any part is missing. That process can take weeks.

The opportunity to type information directly onto the
application can be seen as a benefit for not only the applicant,
but also the people on the other end: the admissions officers. With
the online system, applicant information is downloaded directly
onto the University database. This reduces the chance that an
admissions officer will mistype an applicant’s information
into University servers.

Additionally, with so many students applying over the Internet,
fewer and fewer paper applications are needed, saving money on
printing costs.

“We have sent far less paper applications to high schools
— 33 percent less in the past two years,” Associate
Director of Admissions Chris Lucier said.

In previous years the number of paper applications printed
annually was 200,000. Now, the University sends 100,000 forms to
prospective students and prints 40,000 for high schools and for use
in college fairs.

For all its perks, there are definite drawbacks to the online
system. Applications received electronically must still be printed
out and reviewed in hard copy form, adding time to the evaluation
process.

Also, there are many parts to an online application. Unlike
forms submitted via traditional mail — where students’
applications, transcripts and recommendations arrived at the
University in a single envelope — online forms need to be
assembled piecemeal as parts arrive online and on paper. The
outcome is more filing and more waiting on the admissions’
end of the process.

The University still charges the same undergraduate application
fee regardless of whether the application was done on paper or
electronically. “I have a feeling that two to three years
will bring an even larger number of applications being done online.
We’re looking forward,” Lucier said.

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