Published Online: November 29, 2000
Published in Print: November 29, 2000, as Colleges

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Online Applications: While technology-savvy high school students now can apply to most colleges and universities online, a national survey reveals that the vast majority still opt for sending their applications through traditional "snail mail."

The National Association for College Admission Counseling found that more than 87 percent of the 455 responding higher education institutions reported that they now accept admissions applications online—a significant increase from the 79 percent that did so last year.

But a mere 8.2 percent of those institutions reported receiving 30 percent or more of students' applications via their Web sites, e-mail, or other electronic transmission method, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based association, which represents secondary school counselors and college-admissions officers.

For example, at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., about 10 percent of last year's 4,300 applications were sent using the Internet. Miami University in Ohio received 1,300 online applications—also 10 percent—out of about 12,000 total. And at Boston University, where about 28,000 students applied last year, 3,692 application's were submitted online, or about 13 percent.

Eric Rothman, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, submitted his application a year ago through certified mail. "Things seemed to be more organized when you send it by the old paper method," he said. "Sometimes things get lost. It was less of a worry."

Mark Cannon, the NACAC's deputy executive director, predicts that the number of online applications will grow substantially as the Internet becomes even more integrated into everyday life. "There still seems to be a greater trust in the old paper-and-pencil format," he said, "but the Internet is increasingly a medium high school students are embracing."

That trend has become evident at the University of Iowa, where about 25 percent of the 14,116 applications for undergraduate admissions this fall were received online.

By contrast, the number of inquiries colleges and universities receive from potential students from electronic sources continues to increase. Nearly all of the colleges responding to the NACAC survey said the number of those inquiries had increased.

But even so, institutions continue to receive inquiries in a number of different ways. This fall, more than half the schools surveyed said up to 40 percent of inquiries were received from written sources. Respondents also reported that they receive 90 percent of inquiries via telephone calls.

—John Gehring jgehring@epe.org

Vol. 20, Issue 13, Page 14

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