ISU provides Online applications

Melissa Berg

Online application services have become widely used by universities throughout the country, and Iowa State followed the trend in January 1998.

The number of colleges and universities offering online applications increased from 44 percent to 60 percent in 1997, according to a survey of 480 admissions officers by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.

Susan Eveland, ISU online application program coordinator, said more than 500 applications were submitted online for the Fall 1998 semester.

So far this year, 20 to 30 applications are received online each week, said Jean Dirks, admissions systems analyst.

There is a $5 fee charged by the outside company operating the service, but the regular application fee is waived, Dirks said.

“There has been some discussion of implementing the application fee for the online applications as well,” she said. “Online applications may be taken more seriously if the application fee was charged.”

The online service has several advantages, Eveland said.

She said the biggest advantage is the convenience for students, and over time, the service could reduce university costs as well.

Letters sent to prospective ISU students encourage the use of the online application service. High school counselors have seen a rise in the number of students using the service.

“We do encourage students to use online applications,” said Larry Zwagerman, counselor at Ames High School. “There is an increasing number of students using the service and also for scholarship applications.”

Jay Cookman, counselor at Valley High School in Des Moines, said he has seen more students applying online, but he is skeptical about the convenience.

“The drawback is that the students forget that they still have to send their transcripts. It’s not as convenient as it’s made out to be,” Cookman said. “They have to take the responsibility to realize that applying online doesn’t complete the registration.”

He said paper applications are handy for the state schools because they are available through Iowa high school counseling offices and can be mailed for the students through the school with their transcripts attached.

Electronic transfer of transcripts has been available at ISU for the past three years, said Larry Newhouse, ISU information systems leader. ISU can electronically trade transcripts with the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

“It’s like an electronic post office,” Newhouse said. “There are still some security concerns using these systems.”

He said the state of Iowa is working on a project called Project Easier to simplify the application process.

It began with the three state universities and will soon be piloted in a few high schools and community colleges.