Technology and College Admissions

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Historically, the college admissions process has been paper-intensive. Students have long associated the process of applying to college with gathering and mailing admission forms, essays, recommendations, and transcripts. Oh, the joy of getting paper cuts, licking envelopes, and living next to the mailbox! However, over recent years, the college admissions process has been going electronic. The remainder of this essay will explain the new electronic format associated with college admissions and describe how you can benefit from it.

The Common Application

The first step in considering electronic applications is to see if your school participates in the Common Application Program. The Common Application Program has 456 members from 46 states and several countries. The odds are that, if you are applying to a school in the United States, it is on the list. Where the Common Application Program really benefits you is if you are applying to several schools. Instead of having to mail forms multiple times to different schools, you can use your Common Application account as a clearinghouse for all your documents. Doing so will save you a lot of time in sending applications out and assist you in applying earlier in the admissions cycle, which in turn raises your chances of admission.

Individual Schools

Even if you are applying to schools that are not participants in the Common Application Program, it is still highly likely that your target school has an electronic format for submitting application forms. You can find your target school’s electronic forms, if they have any, by looking at their admissions site online.

It is worth choosing an electronic format over a paper format even if your school is not in the Common Application Program. First, going electronic is green behavior. You’ll be saving a lot of paper, and that’s good for everyone. Second, going electronic protects you from the vagaries of the postal delivery system. You’ll never have to worry about when your forms were received. Third, you’ll save time. Transmission of electronic documents takes place instantly, but mailing takes at least a few days.

Points to Remember

Especially if you use the Common Application Program, there are a couple of points to keep in mind when submitting electronic applications. First, make sure that your recommenders know about the program and what it requires of them. Some older recommenders might not understand the process. You should ensure that your recommenders understand the process of uploading their recommendations electronically. You should also be certain to let your recommenders know not to mention the names of any target schools, since a recommendation on file with the Common Application Program will go out to several schools at once. That advice goes for you as well. Students sometimes tailor their admissions essays to specific schools–which is a good thing, as long as you label all such essays and don’t mix them up. It can be very easy to upload the wrong essay to an electronic format, and nothing turns admissions counselors off more than seeing an essay written for another school! Thus, you should be certain to label all of your electronic documents in a manner that will allow you to identify them easily when it comes time to upload.


Ultimately, electronic applications are a win-win phenomenon. They’re green, fast, and convenient. As long as you follow some of the practical tips in this post, you can’t lose when it comes to electronic rather than paper-based college admissions.

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