The Online Application

Learn how to handle the online application.

By Michael Pugh

March 09, 2009

The Online Application The Online Application

Applying to college online can save you time and money. Online applications make submitting your application easy, but don’t take them less seriously. Here’s what you need to know about online applications.

Good for Students, Good for Colleges

When you apply online you get what you need instantaneously. Depending on the school, you might submit the required information directly through the college’s Web site. At the very least, most schools make paper forms available for download through their site.

If you apply online, you may need to submit some paper as well, be sure to read all instruction carefully. Contact your high school guidance department to make sure your transcript is sent. You’ll also be responsible for making sure your letters of recommendation are sent.

Growing in Popularity

If you choose to apply online, you won’t be at a disadvantage. “Universities across the country have agreed that they won’t show preference to any single application, be it paper applications, the Common Application or electronic applications,” says Tom Burgess, former president of CollegeLink. “Basically they’re looking to receive applications any way they can get them.”

Most colleges allow prospective students to apply online and the response has been good. At the University of California, eight out of 10 students who applied for undergraduate admissions for the fall of 2004 applied online. And close to 90 percent of freshman applicants submitted their application online. In fact the university now asks that any student able to do so, apply online.

Where to Go to Apply Online

The college’s Web site is a student’s first stop for online application information. Students can also turn to services that allow them to simplify the process by filling out the equivalent of one college application for all their prospective schools. That Web site then takes their information and pre-fills the application forms for all the schools the student selects.

Online Application Tips

Here are some tips to help you make the most of online applications:

  • Heavy traffic can slow online applications. Some schools report that their online application forms get heavy use over the Thanksgiving holiday which can slow their performance.
  • Just because it’s online doesn’t mean mistakes will be forgiven. Be sure to check your application for errors before submitting.
  • Treat emails like formal letters. If you find yourself corresponding with an admissions counselor regarding your application, use formal language and an email address that looks professional (e.g. bobsmith@hotmail as opposed to cuteypie84@hotmail).

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