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Ohio college to stop accepting paper applications

In an unusual move, the University of Dayton implements a policy that will require prospective students to submit their admissions applications online.

    In an unusual move, Ohio's University of Dayton has implemented a policy to accept only electronic applications, starting with students applying for fall 2002 admission.

    Although many schools offer students the option of filing their applications online, the University of Dayton says it is only the second college to require it. West Virginia Wesleyan College is the only other known university with a similar policy, University of Dayton officials said.

    Chris Munoz, associate provost for enrollment management at the University of Dayton, says the move will allow the school to save staff time by avoiding the data entry required to process paper applications.

    Munoz says the school already receives 60 percent of its applications online. "To have grown our applicant pool at the rate that we have, and not had to add more administrative staff--that has been a money saver," he said.

    Over the past several years, universities throughout the United States have moved more of their services to the Web to reduce costs. Many students now receive their schedules and grades electronically, and several schools offer Web-based classes, or distance learning.

    Each of these developments save universities money, whether on actual real estate or on administrative staff. It also offers students an added convenience.

    "The technology can enable education to be more efficient and less expensive," Munoz said.

    Researchers who track Internet usage among high school students say mandatory electronic filing should not prevent any students from applying to the University of Dayton, as they say the so-called digital divide does not exist among college-bound high school seniors.

    "Maybe it exists among community college students or other groups, but we found that digital divide doesn't exist among kids who plan to go to four-year colleges and universities," said Richard Hesel, a senior partner of the marketing consulting agency Art and Science Group, which publishes the Student Poll, a survey of college-bound high school seniors. "The Web and computers are ubiquitous in these kids' lives regardless of their socioeconomic background or ethnic diversity."

    In the most recent Student Poll, a survey of college-bound high school seniors that is published by the group, 94 percent of students said they had Internet access compared with 82 percent in 1998, and 31 percent in 1996. Furthermore, 93 percent of students said they had access to a computer both at home and at school, and 100 percent of respondents said they had access at either home or school.