Applying to College: Online or On Paper?

The college application process can be a rough one. Not only must you decide where to apply, but you must also remember that every school has a different application procedure as well as different application forms. In addition, you have to do plenty of legwork to get together all the documents you’ll need for your application, such as teacher recommendations, high school transcripts, and standardized testing scores. But now, with the proliferation of the Internet, college admissions officers across the nation hope to make the application process just a bit easier with the introduction of the Common Application, which can be completed online. However, that new added choice may have actually made things more confusing for college hopefuls, who now wonder whether it is better to apply to college online or take the traditional route and apply through the mail.

Ask any college and it is likely that they will tell you the same thing: they treat applications in either online or mail format with the same care and attention. This essentially means that whether or not to mail or e-mail your application depends solely on your own personal preference. Applying online is undoubtedly easier. For one, the Common Application will allow you to only have to fill out one online application form and send that same form to several colleges, cutting down on the amount of time you have to spend just filling out your information on college application packets. Instead, you simply type to fill out the forms given, which eliminates the worry of having to write legibly or break out the White Out tape if something is misspelled. But those applying online should also take extra care to not make any typos because those could severely affect your application status. In online applications, you also will have the knowledge that your application was submitted successfully, thanks to instant e-mail confirmations.

However, you will likely still have to submit certain forms, like your personal essay, through the mail anyway, even if you do submit your application online. This is where mailing a traditional application could make more sense. Because you must send part of your application packet to your school through the post anyway, it would make sense to send your entire application the same way to ensure that all of the forms arrive together. Also, some students believe that in a digital age, sending a traditional postal application could help them stand out from the crowd.

Yet, when it comes down to it, online applications may have the upper hand. A posted application may be personal, but it can also arouse questions of why someone would send something through the mail when a more efficient method (online application) exists. If you are torn between the two, opt for an online application.

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