Think of everything that goes into a college application. Transcripts. Personal essays. Teacher recommendations. Standardized test scores. Application fees. In the past, these and other materials would have to be requested, gathered, paper-clipped, and finally mailed off to a specific college in a fat manila envelope.
Anyone who’s applied to college in the past knows the stress of gathering information. Not to mention the very real fear that your application would get lost in the mail.
That’s not the case anymore.
THE RISE OF THE COMMON APP
Increasingly, more and more high school students go online to seamlessly apply for college. And the benefits of an online college application process make the whole ordeal – and it can be an ordeal, even for the sharpest student – much more bearable.
Take, for example, The Common Application. This online application lets high-school students apply to over 700 colleges across the country. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for college applicants. With it, students can fill out a single application and use it to apply at multiple colleges.
Similarly, there’s also The Universal College Application. Much smaller than The Common Application with a roster of colleges at 23 currently, The University College Application’s partner universities include Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, and Vanderbilt.
(Remember the days when you had to fill out a separate application for each college you were applying to? Try not to get jealous.)
There are other benefits to applying with these online programs, of course. High school students can use them to:
- Receive reminders of upcoming deadlines,
- pay individual college application fees,
- learn how far along they are in a particular application process,
- stay connected with their school counselors and recommenders, and
- track documents they’ve already uploaded and submitted.
If you know a student who’s thinking about using The Common Application to apply for colleges this fall, the Khan Academy offers a helpful video walkthrough of how to set it up and enter all your required information.
WHO GETS LEFT BEHIND?
With the accessibility of online college applications, however, come disadvantages for students who might not have access to a reliable broadband Internet connection at home. One group of students at a particularly unfair disadvantage: rural students.
According to The New York Times, many college administrators now see these students as the key to enriching life and perspective at colleges and universities. As Laura Pappano writes:
To college administrators, rural students, many of them the first in their families to attend college, have become the new underrepresented minority. In their aim to shape leaders and provide access to the disadvantaged, higher education experts have been recognizing that these students bring valuable experiences and viewpoints to campuses that don’t typically attract agriculture majors. Rural students, said Adam Sapp, admissions director at Pomona College, have “a different understanding of complicated political and social issues,” offering “one more lens through which to see a problem.”
Her article mentions the drive universities make to attract rural students – and to show them they’re capable of obtaining a college education, even if they’re the first in their family to go to college.
Rural areas, however, can also be spotty when it comes to reliable Internet access. Some school districts and students, for various economic and geographic reasons, may not be able to benefit from constant online access the same way as more suburban and urban students and school districts.
CONNECTING RURAL STUDENTS AND CAMPUSES
Today, however, 24/7 broadband Internet connection is essential to any student’s success. Often times, disadvantages of time, money, and knowledge can be alleviated online. And there are multiple ways the Internet can help in-need high schoolers make it to college, beyond accessing tools like The Common Application.
For example, it may be difficult for students to make the trek to universities and colleges that interest them, especially if they are located across the country.
Enter: virtual college tours.
Online programs like Campus Tours or eCampusTours can help students visualize themselves at a particular university by connecting them with virtual tours, with online information and websites, with social media feeds (such as YouTube channels), and more.
According to Pappano’s article, there’s more potential online help available for rural students, including:
- virtual college advisors with first-hand knowledge of working with rural high schoolers, and
- online help for everything from personalized SAT practice tests to application walkthroughs.
Students can also conduct research through helpful sites such as the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. This interactive tool allows users to compare schools based on “typical costs, average student loan amount, students’ ability to repay their loans, and their future earnings.”
LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD
Ultimately, the goal is about making sure rural students interested in going to college have the same advantages and access to knowledge and resources as their more affluent peers.
That’s where Kajeet Education Broadband™ comes in. More than just Internet, this educational broadband solution offers a level playing field that can help make the online college application process easier for anyone, regardless of what part of the country they live in or what rung they hold on the socio-economic ladder.
Whether it’s taking advantage of online college applications or going on a virtual tour of a university they’d never otherwise have the chance to visit, affordable anytime/anywhere Internet access matters. And when it’s available where the students are – on the school bus, on the go, at home – it can help students make the leap from high school to college with a little less stress, a little more confidence, and whole lot of excitement.
Provide your students safe Internet access while college application season is in full swing. Contact us to learn more.