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There are reasons to apply for college online, as well as reasons not to apply online. If you are applying to a large number of colleges, filling out online college applications can be a great way to save time. However, most experts advise against applying to dozens of colleges, but rather applying to the few that you really wish to attend.
In general, if the college to which you are applying offers an online application, it is probably safe to do so. Searching online, however, brings up standard online college applications, many of which are accepted by colleges in lieu of their personalized application. This process will allow you to fill out just one application and submit it to many different colleges, thereby saving some time. These standard online college applications are generally accepted and treated the same way as if a unique application was filled out, but not always.
Sometimes, a good way to make yourself stand out in the application process is to either fill out the university's specific application online, or to fill out and actually mail in the college application. This is especially true if you are including any sort of portfolio or artistic work. Remember, if you are applying for acceptance into a competitive college, you want to make your application as memorable and professional as possible.
Filling out online college applications does not usually save you any money. Each school to which you apply will usually still charge an application fee, which may range from $50 US Dollars (USD) up to $200 USD. These fees may be waived for various reasons, but filling out an application online is usually not one of them. In addition to the application fee, be sure that when you fill out online college applications, you include all the necessary requested information.
Even if a standard online application does not include extras, such as letters of recommendation, an essay or an interview, you should still check with the admissions department at a university to see what is required. If a university likes to see letters of recommendation, or prefers to meet prospective students for an interview, you should do these things even if it makes the application process less convenient. Take note of application deadlines as well -- the fact that you are applying online does not change the application deadline. Applying online for college can be a time-saver, but be sure that you are still being as conscientious and as thorough as possible.
I think being able to complete college applications online has simplified the process so much. It is much easier to fill out the application and attach any documents you need, than manually filling it out and sending it in the mail.
In certain circumstances where you wanted to include artwork, I can see where you would not want to complete the process online, but in most situations it can sure save time and expense.