Students like Wilma Bainbridge ’09, who applied to Yale last fall using a paper application, may soon become a minority at the University.
“I’m the only ‘paper person’ I know,” Bainbridge said. “I guess I just find it easier to map out my thoughts on paper.”
Since 2003, high school students have been able to apply to Yale by either submitting an electronic application online or sending a paper one by mail. But this year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is strongly encouraging students to apply online. A move to an all-electronic application system would eliminate the processing time it takes the office to double-check and enter paper applications into the computer system, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel said.
Last year, 53.6 percent of the incoming applications to Yale were submitted online, Brenzel said, but this year’s early action application figures will not be available for a week.
Brenzel said a student’s choice of application does not have any effect on admissions decisions, but applying online is generally easier for both parties.
“It’s simply more convenient for both students and for us to handle online applications, all things else being equal,” he said. “We prefer the online applications because they save time and energy on the students’ part and they are easier for us to get into our system here.”
Though some students who applied online said the process was more convenient than applying by paper application, others said working with a hard copy of their submissions felt more secure.
Maria Cohn ’09 said she originally planned on applying online, but ended up choosing to apply on paper after facing several problems with the online system. The pull-down menus and list of extracurricular options did not include all the choices she was looking for, she said.
“There’s just less flexibility when it’s online,” Cohn said. “I found it nice to be able to type everything out and have the security of the paper application and a postage receipt.”
Sam Bragg ’09, who applied early to Yale online last fall, said he felt the online process would be easier, but also said he found himself frustrated by the technical aspects of the Internet procedure.
“It’s not the most user-friendly program,” Bragg said.
Still, some applicants said the ability to type out their answers and apply to Yale with the click of the button made their lives easier.
Taylor Ray, a senior at the Brentwood School in Los Angeles who applied early to Yale this fall, said he found the online process simple to use.a
“I found it pretty easy,” Ray said. “I guess it’s a personal preference thing. I can just be more efficient online in organizing my thoughts.”
Jarrod Aguirre ’09, who applied online last year, said applying over the Internet also allows students to more easily copy and paste for additional applications, though he conceded that there is a certain sense of formality that is lost online.
“Some students think applying on paper makes it seem like you’re putting more effort in,” Aguirre said.
But Brenzel said online applications will be evaluated in the same manner as those submitted by paper.
“Some counselors tell students that paper is better because essays do not lose their original formatting or have limited formatting choices,” he said. “We simply think that this has no effect on our reading of a file.”
At Harvard University, approximately 60 percent of applicants this year are submitting their forms online, Harvard Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis said. Less than half of last year’s applicants applied online, she said.
“We print out the online applications and make a folder, with paper, which is the form in which they’re read,” McGrath Lewis said. “I can’t predict the future, but we do know that other places are reviewing folders online and certainly change will occur, in some direction, over time.”
Yale’s early application deadline this year was Nov. 1. Last December, Yale accepted 704 students out of a total early applicant pool of 3,933 students.