Years ago we applied to college using paper forms, a typewriter, #10 envelopes and snail mail. Today’s applicants have no problems scanning, uploading, downloading, CAPTCHA-ing, and e-signing whatever a college requires. But they would be wise to recognize that in some crucial ways the details of applying have changed little from the days of White-Out and postmark deadlines. Let me point out three things to keep in mind:
First, be careful that your facility with the mechanics doesn’t make you careless with the substance. The steps in applying to college can be completed faster, but this can also introduce opportunities for mistakes – sending the wrong test scores, essays or resume with the click of a button. Your essays are still read carefully for content, structure and mechanics. You cannot treat them as e-mail (or blog posts!) even if they are now read on a screen.
Second, leave time to process all the information that you can now gather so easily. College websites are brimming with information about more institutions than you could visit in a year. You can explore their courses, their faculty, their graduation rates, their special programs. Virtual tours, Skype sessions with current students, e-mail exchanges with professors, all enrich the process beyond what even a dedicated applicant could achieve in years past. But with all this at your fingertips, remember that the goal of all this research is still to find the college that is the best match for you.
Finally, protect your digital reputation. This is one that parents may harp on, but that doesn’t make them wrong! As easily as you can search the web, admissions officers can as well. The inane tweet, the compromising Facebook photo, the too-explicit Youtube video can come back to haunt you. You need to be especially careful to tell the truth when a simple Google search can expose so much.
As attractive as new-fangled technology may be, it is not an end in itself. If you need personalized help in deciding where to spend the next four years, I am happy to work with you. Give me a call at 847-660-8625, or fill out the “Contact Me” form, and I will get right back to you.