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New school tech trend creates old school problems

After electronically submitting her application to graduate school at the University of Maryland, Jessica Okanlawon received an e-mail stating the application had been processed — but it was addressed to a male student who shared her last name.

Concerned about the status of her application, Okanlawon contacted the University of Maryland and eventually mailed her paper application as a backup.

“I later received my e-mail stating my application had been processed,” says Okanlawon, a senior at Hampton University. “I do wonder if the other student ever received notification and how many other prospective students this has happened too.”

Nowadays, prospective students worldwide can apply for admission to their college of choice with just a click of a mouse. According to the Princeton Review online, there are currently 99 schools offering prospective students the option of applying to graduate school online.

However, modern technology hasn’t proven to be as efficient as expected, ultimately creating a host of problems for admissions offices and headaches for anxious students. The problems can affect students applying directly to universities and those who use services that submit applications on their behalf.

Prospective students can outside, centralized services like the American Medical College Application Service and Embark to apply for admission to participating medical, graduate and law schools. For a processing fee, application service providers electronically transfer student application data to the students’ desired schools.

In 2002, the University of California, Davis School of Medicine was forced to extend its application deadline after a glitch in AMCAS’ system was discovered. The one-month extension allowed the application service to mail electronic summaries and paper copies of students’ applications to the medical school.

Despite the occasional problem, some students say they prefer online applications because they are easier to fill out and provide faster responses. The applications also save money be eliminating printing and mailing costs.

Hampton senior Andrea Hurt used the Law School Admission Council’s online application service and experienced difficulty downloading her electronic application for law school. Upon calling the company to troubleshoot the problem, she learned she had to reduce the security settings on her computer in order to download the application.

“Initially, I was concerned about decreasing my computer security and opening up susceptibility to viruses and theft,” she says. “However, as an eager student I was more concerned about getting into law school.”

Hurt says that after resolving the initial technological problems, she was pleased with how smooth her electronic application submission went through LSAC.

By Ashleigh Hodge


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