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Published: Sunday, 1/8/2006

Applicants for college confront crunch time

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Woodward High School counselor Sarah Barman examines an honors application with senior Kateryna Gololobova. Woodward High School counselor Sarah Barman examines an honors application with senior Kateryna Gololobova.
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Kateryna Gololobova, a senior at Toledo's Woodward High School, is keeping her mind on the calendar, and Feb. 1 has a big red circle around it.

Ohio State University is one of her top college picks, and Feb. 1 is the final deadline there for applications for the fall semester.

"I was going to fill out like eight applications to different schools, but it doesn't make sense to apply to that many," Miss Gololobova said.

The regular admission deadline at Ohio State is slightly later than some schools, and Miss Gololobova admits she should have gotten that application completed by now.

College admissions officers and high school guidance counselors say the 17-year-old senior is not alone, but she is in the minority of high school seniors in terms of getting her application in. Deadlines for early admission consideration passed months ago, and those who haven't completed regular admission applications by now are running out of time.

Gary Swegan, director of admissions for Bowling Green State University, said close to 80 percent of applications for the fall semester have already been submitted - most were submitted before Christmas.

"Our biggest week of the year is the week after Thanksgiving," he said. "Most high schools preach get it in by Thanksgiving, or they use Dec. 1 as a barometer."

However, like a growing number of high school seniors, Miss Gololobova is saving some time - and even money in some cases - by applying online for some universities rather than filling out paper applications.

David Hawkins, director of public policy of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said many colleges are receiving more online applications than paper applications, and some even offer incentives to apply online. But he noted that very few colleges have moved to using only online applications.

"Not everyone has access to [computer] technology or the knowledge to use it," Mr. Hawkins said. "There still seems to be some concerns among colleges that not all students have sufficient access [to computers] to complete applications online."

Miss Gololobova has already applied to some colleges, including Tiffin University, which offered a financial incentive to apply online.

"It was free to apply online," she said. "Otherwise, I would have had to pay $20."

Cam Cruickshank, vice president for recruitment and admissions at Tiffin University, said colleges encourage online applications because it generally makes it easier for the schools and the students.

"This generation of students has grown up online, and it makes sense to offer it to them," he said. "From a business flow point of view, the student enters all of their information, and that saves us time and labor hours."

The University of Dayton's Web site notes that for applicants entering in fall, 2006, there's only one way to apply - online. "It's simple, fast, and free."

Rob Durkle, director of admissions for the University of Dayton, said the school was the first in the nation to accept applications exclusively online.

"One thing we found is the online applicants, versus those who applied on paper, are better quality in terms of GPA and test scores," Mr. Durkle said. "Part of the thinking from some people was that with [exclusively] online applications, you may not have serious candidates, but that turned out not to be true."

College admissions officers say students who apply early in the school year - before Thanksgiving, rather than well after Christmas - tend to be better students with higher grades.

"Better students apply early," Mr. Cruickshank said. "They are stronger academically and are probably more confident that they are going to go to college and more eager to get into their college of choice."

The University of Toledo has an open enrollment policy, which means there is not a strict deadline for admission.

Jennifer Kwiatkowski, UT's interim director of freshman admission, said students seeking scholarships, financial aid, or certain academic programs do have early deadlines.

Mabel Freeman, director of undergraduate admission at Ohio State University, said the school will typically receive up to 19,000 applications for the fall semester - 60 percent of which arrive online. As of last week, OSU had received 13,565 applications.

"Because most high school counselors are telling students if they want them to send transcripts, you need all your applications in by Thanksgiving," Ms. Freeman said. "We do also have an early deadline of Dec. 15 for consideration to special scholarships."

Kelly Legg, guidance director at Perrysburg High School, said she does her best to get seniors to apply by Thanksgiving.

"We actually suggest that students pay attention to each college's deadline because they do vary," she said.

Perrysburg City Schools charges students for college application forms after the first five applications. Each additional form costs $25. College applicants also get one transcript free and then must pay $5 per transcript, up from $1 in previous years.

Ms. Legg said the transcript fees were raised because the district uses an outside agency to computerize its files, and the agency raised its rates. Part of the fee, she admits, is designed to encourage students to carefully consider which colleges they would like to go to and to discourage students from applying to dozens of schools.

At Woodward High, one student last year applied to about 60 colleges, said Sarah Barman, the school's guidance counselor.

"I think our record is a little over 20," Ms. Legg said of Perrysburg High. "We have really tried to educate our students that it is a very expensive thing to do by the time you pay for transcripts and the college applications."

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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