By Karen E. Spaeder
There was a time when applying for college meant filling out several different hard-copy applications, stuffing them in envelopes, and mailing them off to various colleges and universities. Nowadays, applying for college is as simple as getting online and, with a few mouse clicks, submitting your application to dozens of different educational institutions.
Online services have proliferated to the point where you have countless options for applying to your colleges of choice. Below, you’ll find links to some of the services we believe to be the most useful in managing and executing your college applications as well as planning for college and financial aid. Your choice on which service you use will depend largely on whether the service is partnered with the college(s) to which you want to apply.
The Common Application: www.commonapp.org
The Common Application is a not-for-profit organization that provides an online or print admission application that students may submit to any of its 415 participating members. The service also allows teachers and counselors to complete and submit various forms online that are required as part of your application, rather than printing and mailing the forms to the colleges. There is no cost to you or high schools, and using the online system is completely optional for your teachers and counselor.
Common Black Common Application: www.eduinconline.com
With this service from EDU, Inc., you can apply to 35 black colleges at once and pay only $35. EDU, Inc., recruiters visit more than 3,000 high schools annually and participate in more than 50 college fairs nationwide. Check with your high school’s guidance counselor to learn whether an EDU, Inc., recruiter is planning a visit to your school.
This service lets you research and apply to your choice of more than 600 colleges online as well as utilize college planning tools and application timelines. Some of the helpful site features include user-friendly search functions right on the home page that let you search by state and by average high school grade point average and SAT scores. You also can register your email address to receive information from schools that match your profile. For Facebook fans, Embark offers a Facebook app to interact with other students who are considering the same schools you are.
Superapp, powered by ConnectEDU: http://superapp.connectedu.net/application
This site offers electronic applications for more than 1,500 colleges. The simple, clean design of this site makes it easy to get all your applications done in one place—as well as organize letters of recommendation, official transcripts and other important information.
Universal College Application: www.universalcollegeapp.com
With 80 member colleges, the Universal College Application offers fewer application choices than some of the other services. However, the site offers a unique tool that lets you add links to videos, portfolios and other online content to supplement your application. Showcase your sports talent, artwork, writing, personal collections and more, and set yourself apart from other applicants.
This site encourages a three-step process for applying to college:
1) Plan. The site offers tools such as a college planning timeline, free test prep, a self-assessment for career exploration and more.
2) Explore. Search for colleges, attend a virtual college fair, and take advantage of the college-matching wizard to find colleges that match your preferences.
3) Apply. Submit your application online to your choice of more than 800 member colleges, and research, calculate and apply for financial aid.
With all of the available means through which to apply for college, your only challenge in applying might be narrowing down which service to use. Log on to each site to explore the features and functions and to determine which service will connect you with the colleges that interest you. Additionally, remember to take advantage of the guidance counseling services available through your high school or other local educational institution. There are many experts available to help you navigate the application process, whether in print or online, and achieve your higher education goals.