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U-M enrollment reaches another record high
Undergrad admissions: Nearly half of applications so far done online

The fall 2003 admissions season already is underway, and online applications appear to be growing in popularity, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions (OUA). So far this year, nearly half of the applications received by OUA are Web-based, up from about a third last year, says Undergraduate Admissions Director Theodore L. Spencer.

Fall 2002 was the first complete admissions cycle in which students applying to U-M could do so online. The online application for undergraduate admission can be found at http://www.admissions.umich.edu. The application deadline for freshman admission is Feb. 1 each year. The University admits students in what it terms a "modified rolling process" beginning in October until the class is filled in late spring.

The Web-based application is specific to the University, Spencer says. U-M does not participate in a common application that can be sent to multiple schools at once.

"We don't know yet if the dramatic increase in the number of applications coming in over the Web represents a timing issuewith students who apply electronically sending their applications in earlieror a shift away from paper applications," Spencer says. "Our experience last year, with about one-third of our applications coming in electronically, is very
similar to what peer institutions have been seeing around the country.

"But we do think it is possible that the total increases we've seen in applications for undergraduate admission over the past year are due in part to the greater ease of applying online," he says. A total of 25,108 students applied for admission for summer or fall 2002, up from 24,141 the previous year. Already, Spencer says, applications for fall 2003 admission are running ahead of last year's pace.

Christopher H. Lucier, associate director of admissions, says applying online does not increase a student's chances of being admitted to the University. Paper and electronic applications are considered equally. The $40 application fee is the same for both. But applying via the Web brings other benefits both to students and to the University, he says.

First, the online application for the coming school year is available beginning Aug. 1, while paper applications are mailed out starting in the middle of August. Therefore, students applying online can get started on, and submit, their applications earlier in the year.

"We always encourage students to apply as early in the admissions season as possible," Lucier says. "When students apply early, it facilitates the process, especially the awarding of financial aid."

The online application also features pull-down menus and other devices to help students fill the application out correctly and completely. The system will not allow students to submit an online application if required information is missing. In contrast, Lucier says, students who submit paper applications and forget to fill out some sections will have an ex
tensive delay as the application is mailed back and forth.

Contrary to popular belief, Lucier says, receiving applications electronically does not create any savings in staffing for the OUA. Rather, staff must be shifted from data entry to filing, and matching up the different parts of the application, such as transcripts and recommendations. Those additional materials come in separately from online applications but are attached to the paper version.

Lucier cites national data showing that students today are comfortable using a computer for college searches and applications. Nationally, 85 percent of college-bound students have access to the Web at home, and 76 percent search online for information on colleges and universities. Those numbers, he says, have increased dramatically in the past two years.

U-M is encouraging students to apply via the Web through its new CD-ROM. The CD, developed last year, offers a wealth of information about the University, including personal interviews with students and faculty. Prospective students can take a virtual tour of the campus and explore specific areas of academic study. If students decide to apply for admission, the CD can take them right to the University's online application if they are viewing it on a computer that has Internet access. Lucier says OUA sent out about 100,000 copies of the CD to prospective students and high school counselors over the summer.

Related story: Freshman enrollment down; minority student numbers up overall>

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