Regents to move to common, online application

8:36:00 PM CDT - Thursday, March 13, 2003

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

Starting July 1, prospective undergraduate students who apply online to WSU will be able to take care of their application fee payment online, as well.

WSU, along with the other five regents institutions in Kansas, will begin using the vendor CollegeNET for the online admissions applications for undergraduate, U.S. students. CollegeNET, which calls itself "the world's leading 'virtual plumber' for higher education Internet transactions," was awarded the contract for the Kansas regents system.

As a result of the new vendor system, admission application fees at WSU will go up $5 for students applying for the spring 2004 semester and after.

The new regents-wide system, in which common questions will be asked, will make it easier for students applying to more than one Kansas regents university, according to Gina Crabtree, director of admissions at WSU.

Starting July 1, when the CollegeNET system launches, students who create an account to apply to WSU, for example, can use that same account information when applying at any of the other five regents universities. When the student uses that same username and password for the online admissions application of another Kansas public university, the core fields will already be filled out.

Crabtree estimates that about half the high school seniors who apply to WSU end up applying to other Kansas regents universities.

Students have to be admitted to be considered for scholarships, and "obviously scholarships and what they're going to be offered at the different institutions plays a role in their decision" of where to attend, Crabtree says.

Each university will be able to customize their applications, as they do now, with additional questions, Crabtree says.

For the students, using the common application system will be "transparent," says Crabtree. Most won't even realize that by clicking on the application form link that they've jumped to the vendor's system. The displayed page will look just like any other page of the university's site they are visiting.

Using one vendor system for all six regents universities will also allow the regents to compile a database of undergraduate U.S. students who apply online to Kansas' public universities.

Such technological progress a common application, a database and online fee payment comes at a cost, however. CollegeNET will charge $5 for each online application submitted through its system. That cost is being passed along to students by raising the application fee from $25 to $30 for those applying for the spring 2004 semester and beyond.

CollegeNET will collect the fees, take its cut and then distribute the remainder to the universities each month.

Crabtree is hoping the new system will make it possible to download the application information into WSU's student database, which would save time for her staff. Currently when a prospect applies online, an admissions staffer receives a printout and manually enters that application information. Applicants currently mail the application payment.

Crabtree says there's a definite interest among prospects to apply online. "It's fast, it's quick and they can do it any time of day or night. It's definitely growing," she says.

WSU's Graduate School, which started offering both an online application form and application fee payment in January 2002, has seen evidence of that growing interest.

It received 79 online applications that first month; in January 2003 it received 221 applications.

Twenty-two percent of all its applications now come from the Web, according to Margaret Wood, assistant to the Graduate School dean.

The Graduate School is using the vendor ApplyYourself. It had used the vendor for its online inquiry process for two years before using its application process.

Information from the online applications is downloaded into its student information system, which saves valuable staff time from re-entering information.

The inquiry system has also saved time and money. Graduate School staff no longer type up letters and stuff envelopes with material to mail in response to requests for information made online. The inquiry system, which has been set up to respond to frequently asked questions, gives prospects the information they request.

"If you use the Web, you have instantaneous access to information," Wood says.

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