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Internet

Web college service expanded

College hopefuls can now apply to hundreds of institutions, receive their acceptance letters, and even pay their first semester's tuition on the Net.

    College hopefuls can now apply to hundreds of institutions, receive their acceptance letters, and pay their first semester's tuition on the Net without sending or waiting for thick envelopes in the mail.

    IBM and Universal Algorithms announced an agreement today to expand the reach of CollegeNet, a service that allows almost 200 colleges to accept "electronic applications" for a fee.

    CollegeNet's Web site already receives more than 3 million hits per month, according to Universal Algorithms. But under today's deal, IBM will market CollegeNet to higher education institutions in North America including IBM's Global Campus affiliates, through which the company provides networking hardware, Net access, software, and consulting services.

    When it launched Global Campus, IBM promised to eventually let students apply for admission and financial aid, enroll in courses, and take some courses online.

    IBM will also promote CollegeNet to the universities to which it sells computerized student services systems, such as the California State University system and the University of California.

    In addition to letting students pay fees online for hundreds of campuses, CollegeNet also has a database of more 4,600 institutions in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia; a scholarship search engine; and a link to discussion groups that help students prepare for college entrance exams.

    CollegeNet is not the only Web service trying to assuage the anxiety of college admissions. An array of other sites, including GoCollege, Princeton Review, and College Planning, let students compare schools or match their test results to schools' entrance requirements.