Yes, some colleges require that you apply electronically; and, indeed, colleges do find electronic applications quick and easy. But, is it always a good idea to comply and apply electronically?
No, there are reasons for not applying electronically. First, to apply electronically means using your credit card number, or your parents’ credit card number, and that can be risky in a world where identify theft is common. Also, to apply electronically can mean never being sure exactly what is sent. It is not that rare that information received by colleges is not the same as what is sent due to mistyping and other glitches. Third, when filing electronically it is not possible to proofread the final copy, and mistakes as well as misspellings may become a part of an on-line application. Finally, electronic applications can mean that essays that have either/or character and word limits will be truncated or cut off, even if only a few words over.
There are also good reasons for sending your college application by mail. One reason an electronic submission is liked by colleges is because it is brief. Many quantified applicants have much more to say than an electronic application permits. They have a long story to tell and lots of information to add. They may have a portfolio to submit, an additional information essay, or pictures to include. The only way these stories get told is through an application which is sent in. Also, printed applications, if done well, allow a professional, well-rounded presentation that can only be sent though the mails.
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