The college application and admissions process is no exception. What once was a pen and paper task is now completed online.
1. Technology has changed the application process itself.
No longer do students sit at a desk with an application and a pencil. Applications are completed online, even allowing a student to apply to more than one college at one sitting. Last year alone, more than 813,000 students used the Common App (source). While this seems to be a time-saver, it does bring up some concerns and frustrations. Not every student has equal accessibility to a computer with Internet access, and, at least for the Common App, there were a lot of frustrated students trying to work through glitches last year (source).
With applications going online, and with competition for available spots increasing, students are applying to more and more colleges (source), yet another change that technology has brought.
2. Technology has changed the way students learn about specific colleges.
For years, students were limited in their access to information about schools. A student could learn about a school through a book or a pamphlet, through personal experiences of people they knew, and through college visits (for those who could afford the trip). Now, colleges are embracing technology and social media to help students get a glimpse of their school without leaving their home (source). Digital tours, Facebook pages, blogs, Instagram, Tweets–all of these can show a student what it's like to attend a specific school.
In addition to colleges providing information about their school, there are other online sources that can give students insight. CollegeBoard's Big Future is a free source that provides quick, visual information on individual schools and majors. U.S. News provides best college rankings and lists. Princeton Review College Recruiter helps students connect with schools and programs that would fit them. College Navigator allows students to research schools, compare them, and even gives a helpful spreadsheet. ECampusTours provides digital tours. Hop over to this resource page, and you'll see at least a dozen ways students can learn about schools through technology.
3. Technology has changed how students choose a career or major.
Just like students can find online information about a school, so also can they find information about a career or major. Counselors can use paid subscriptions such as Career Dimensions with students or direct students to use free resources, such as the Explore Careers option at CollegeBoard's Big Future.
4. Technology has changed the way counselors assist students.
While there are still books readily available to help students choose a school or major, the majority of research and information is found online. Programs and software, both free and subscription-based, can be helpful tools for the college counselor, such as Guided Path/MyCCA and Naviance. These programs can help keep track of which schools students are interested in and have applied to, pull in ACT and SAT scores, and even provide career and major information.
5. Technology has changed the way people pay for college.
College is expensive, but in order to receive financial aid, you have to embrace technology. Parents must complete the FAFSA to determine financial aid. Students can search for and apply for scholarships online (Fastweb is a popular source), and helpful online sources such as FinAid! can break down the process more easily for students and parents.
6. Technology has changed the way students prepare for the SAT and ACT.
While students can still pick up the large SAT Prep book, many students are using online prep courses, whether a free or paid version, to get ready for the SAT or ACT. Princeton Review, CollegeBoard, Number2, and Khan Academy are just a sample of the online prep that's available. The ironic part is that the SAT and ACT are still pencil and paper tests, although my guess would be that will change in the coming years.
The college application and admissions process has indeed changed, and there is no going back. It is imperative that those involved in helping students get into college–parents, counselors, and the students themselves–learn as much as they can about online admissions. The good thing is that there are sources readily available to learn...so long as you have the technology to access them.