MAILED: Oct. 14, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- When Rick Larson decided he wanted to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for the fall of 1998, it took just 45 minutes and a few clicks on his keyboard to get his application to the university's Admissions Office.
The Altoona High School senior is among the hundreds of people taking advantage of the UW System's newly created electronic application program available for all 26 UW System two- and four-year campuses.
While UW-Eau Claire is the only school Larson has applied to thus far, the electronic application will make it much easier should he decide to apply to more than one university as have many of his classmates, he said.
"It was really easy and there weren't any problems with it," Larson, who plans to enroll in a pre-medicine program, said of the process. "It didn't take long once I got started. It's convenient, keeps the paper work down, there is no postage, and applications are a lot easier to keep track of."
Larson isn't alone in his enthusiasm for the opportunity to apply to universities electronically.
"In the first two weeks, we had more than 300 people use it to apply to UW schools," said Cheri Kraynick, assistant director of Admissions at UW-Eau Claire. "Of those, more than 10 percent have come to Eau Claire."
UW schools started accepting electronic applications Sept. 15 and UW-Eau Claire had 15 the first day, said Kraynick, who served on the System committee that designed the electronic application program. Since then, UW-Eau Claire has received applications daily, with the average being about three a day, she said.
Of a senior class of 90, between 25 and 30 students have already used the electronic application feature to apply to UW schools, said Dick Zahorik, guidance director at Altoona High School.
"There has been a very favorable reaction from students," Zahorik said. "It's really nice for them to sit at a computer and complete an application process. It really speeds things up, particularly for those students who are considering multiple applications. They key in the various schools and send it immediately.
"These kids are so computer literate that most of the communication they use is with the Internet or e-mail. It's very comfortable for them, and in a weird way they feel better doing an electronic application."
Many prospective students have said that it's hard for them to even find a typewriter to complete applications the traditional way, said Roger GroeneWold, director of Admissions at UW-Eau Claire. "For them, it's just easier to use the Web," he said. "They can start it, store it, do the application in pieces, find information they need and then go back to it. It's so accessible.
"Because we consider our university at the leading edge of technology, it's an important product for us to have. It exemplifies the fact that technology is a very viable tool for students to use."
It's just been in the last couple of years that prospective students have requested the electronic application, GroeneWold said.
"This is really great," he said of the program, which he describes as among the best electronic application system on the Web. "It was designed by experts throughout the System. We carefully piloted it, and then carefully presented it so people would not react negatively."
Making the application user friendly was always on the minds of its designers, Kraynick said. "We wanted to make sure we didn't make it so cumbersome that no one would use it," she said of the committee that began its work in January of 1996. "We tried to keep students uppermost in our minds while still finding a way to get the information admissions offices need.
"It was a chore. We were trying to accommodate 26 campuses - all of which have different databases and different admissions processes. It was no small task to come up with an application that would work for everybody."
The reaction from users thus far has been positive, Kraynick said, noting that the system was piloted last fall at select campuses. "Students and counselors were extremely pleased," she said of the reaction. "And now we keep getting applications from many of the same high schools so they must be satisfied."
Those applications are coming primarily from Wisconsin and Minnesota, and involve new freshmen as well as transfer students, Kraynick said. "Everybody seems to be finding out about it so we're very pleased," she said.
UW-Eau Claire admissions staff is particularly excited about the popularity of the new program because it has taken the process a step further than any other UW school, GroeneWold said. The university is now loading all the data submitted by applicants into its database electronically, he said.
"It saves us a lot of keystrokes," Kraynick said of directly loading the information to its database. "We're the first in the System to do it."
"This is very innovative but it's only the tip of the iceberg," GroeneWold said of the electronic application. "In the future, we hope to be able to receive transcripts electronically, receive money electronically and even get counselors' recommendations electronically."
The UW System application can be found at http://www.apply.wisconsin.edu. Help with filling out the application is available at http://www.uwhelp.wisconsin.edu.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 14, 1997