Web applications up; TCU not changing policy

With the early-decision admissions deadline approaching for prospective TCU students, admissions office staff members said they expect half of applications to arrive over the Internet.Over the past five years, Internet applications, at TCU and across the country, have grown in popularity, according to www.collegeboard.com.

The Web site also reports 98 percent of students applying to college this year have access to Internet applications.

Wes Waggoner, director of freshman admissions, said that despite the findings, TCU will continue to accept paper and Internet applications, and has no plans to change its policy.

“There will always be an element of the population that doesn’t have adequate Internet access,” Waggoner said. “Those are the kinds of people we want to reach.”

Internet applications have become more popular because they make the process easier for the institution and the student, Waggoner said.

“There are obvious advantages to an admission office, and maybe even bigger ones for the student,” Waggoner said. “Students are Internet-savvy, and some say they prefer Internet applications over paper.

“We’re in the business of catering to the student.”

TCU is not considering waiving the $40 application fee for applicants who apply online like other institutions have, Waggoner said.

SMU and Baylor University accept Internet applications.

At Baylor, the application fee of $50 is waived for students applying online, said Stephanie Willis, Baylor’s director of admissions counseling.

Information from the online application automatically downloads into a database, Willis said, so the process saves time and money.

“It makes things faster and easier for us,” she said. “It’s definitely a better system.”

One reason TCU is not considering waiving the fee for online applicants, Waggoner said, is that the Internet application process does not save the admissions office time. He said the office still has to download applications received electronically and manually enter them into a database.

Waggoner said another reason TCU is not considering waiving the fee is that it does not want to give the impression that it prefers one form of application over the other.

“I joke with prospective student groups that as long as I get all the information I need, they can write it on a napkin and submit it,” Waggoner said.

Waggoner said two advantages of online applications are that they are more legible and have fewer errors.

Students questioned had mixed reactions to Internet applications.

“I applied online because it was faster and easier,” said Cristina Wilson, a sophomore elementary education major. “I didn’t have to deal with losing papers.”

Katy Park, a sophomore communications studies major, said applying online took away some of the stress of the application process.

“On applications, I feel like colleges are judging my handwriting,” Park said. “If I had bad handwriting, I would have felt like they thought I didn’t take college seriously.”

Some students, including freshman premajor Andrew Vernon, said they prefer the paper application.

“I wanted something that was concrete – that I could hold in my hand,” Vernon said. “That way, I could look it over and make sure I had filled everything out. I got to carry it with me and know it was sent and done.”

Waggoner said that while some day TCU may exclusively use electronic applications, the paper application will stay for students like Vernon, who need a traditional, tactile form of applying.