Which application version to use?

Q: My daughter is starting to work on some of her applications, but before we get too far we have a question. Should she be filling out the paper applications, or the online ones, or does it matter? We’ve been getting conflicting signals on this.

A: The “which application do colleges prefer” question is a very common one, particularly with the rise of the Common Application (http://www.commonapp.org), which has meant that there are now many more schools with multiple options.

In general, schools don’t have a preference for one type of application over another unless they specifically state a preference in their materials. Colleges that accept the Common Application are actually required to have their PRESIDENT and all admissions officers sign a statement that they will treat those applications with exactly the same consideration as they would give to their own printed application. In fact, as schools have moved more and more towards making application forms available on-line, whether through the Common Application site or their own, they’ve seen a welcome reduction in printing and data-entry costs. Some schools try to encourage this trend by waiving the application fee for those students who submit an application online, but as I said, unless they’re explicit about it, they should be treating any official version of their application with equal attention and respect. If you’re ever unsure about a school’s policies on this or any other topic, you can always go directly to the source and have (ideally) the student call the admissions office to ask. This is particularly true in situations where you feel like you’re getting conflicting information; the people you should be talking to when seeking a definitive response are the people who will ultimately be making the decisions.

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Posted on December 5, 2006, in applying. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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