Published Online: September 3, 1997

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Students wishing to save the postage and paper required for a traditional college application now have greater opportunities to apply for admission on-line.

IBM has joined forces with Universal Algorithms Inc., a software developer based in Portland, Ore., to expand the number of colleges linked to CollegeNET, an electronic application service. Almost 200 institutions of higher education are currently accepting on-line applications through the service.

"The average student will ask for three application forms from the college or university of their choice to make sure it's filled out correctly," said Darlene Burnett, the project manager for the International Business Machines Corp.-CollegeNET alliance. "This way, you don't have to rent a typewriter and pull out the white-out."

After sending an application over the Internet, students can even pay application fees on-line, through CollegeNET's credit card service. But acceptance letters will continue to arrive the old-fashioned way--through the mail.

The Web site for CollegeNET is http://www.collegenet.com.

West Virginia, meanwhile, recently unveiled a one-page application form that students can fill out on-line to apply to any of the state's 14 public colleges and universities.

Though the state offered students a paper version of its common application three years ago, this fall will mark the first time that students need only the click of a mouse to send the form to any of its schools, said Charles W. Manning, the chancellor of the state university system.

More than half of the 15 public universities in Michigan have also taken to offering applicants more convenience, through on-the-spot admissions programs that let students meet with a counselor and walk away knowing whether they've been accepted.

Western Michigan University sends instant-admissions counselors upon request to virtually any in-state high school, as a way to boost enrollments and give students the opportunity to explain any glitches in their transcripts, said John Fraire, the dean of admissions at the university.

Other schools, including the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, use this interviewing method to target disadvantaged or minority students.

Bill Turner, the director of admissions at Michigan State, said the university makes a point of visiting schools where college-attendance and high school graduation rates are low.

"Our point," he said, "is to try to give [the students] an injection of the possible immediately."

--JESSICA L. SANDHAM jsandham@epe.org

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