Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

Eric Furda
Dean of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

Here is my video response to the question.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

It's What Inside That Counts!

While the vast majority of students apply to college online, there are a few here and there who apply using paper applications. If you do decide to use paper applications, you should remember to give yourself a bit more time to gather your teacher recommendations and school reports -- as your recommenders and counselors will have to use snail mail for their components as well. Whatever mode you choose, remember that it's what on the INSIDE of the application that matters rather than how the information is presented!

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Colleges prefer online applications

Having students apply online saves admissions offices both time and money. A paper application needs to either be scanned into their system or have the data uploaded. If a student does not have access to a computer, they would not be faulted and online and paper application will be considered exactly the same way. In other words, it will not disadvantage a student to submit a paper application.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Online vs. Paper Applications

I think that they actually prefer paperless applications for the greater ease in handling the immense amount of information ending up at the Admissions Office. However, you will not be penalized for completing paper applications.

Susan Weber


If anything, online applications are more convenient.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Online vs. Paper

Unless stated otherwise, I believe schools will treat applications the same, whether done online or paper. The colleges realize that it may not always be an option to apply using the internet, thus they can't penalize someone for turning in a paper application. At the same time, it is not uncommon for the schools to encourage students to apply online by offering to wave the administrative fee, if they do.

Jill Karatkewicz
Counselor East Hampton High School

Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

These days, the majority of applications are submitted online. However, unless the college tells you otherwise, there is no difference between an online and paper application. The benefit of an online application is that as soon as you hit "Submit" it is instantaneously received by the college (soon to be joined by your supplemental documents like transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc). The other possible benefit of an online application (to the student) is that some colleges will waive the application fee if it is submitted online versus paper format.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Equitable Review of Online and Paper Applications Ensures Equal Access

Colleges and universities prefer to receive applications online. Speed and accuracy are improved with online processing. However, universities that still offer paper submission of applications do so to ensure accessibility. Some students may have limited access to high speed internet which is required for online application completion. Admission offices review paper and online applications with exactly the same process to ensure equal access.

็Ž‹ๆ–‡ๅ› June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

Not the same a few years ago

colleges perfer the online application for better data base management. paper applications has its advantages and not used very often those days. I believe if you prefer to use paper applications, you can provide more information and add more materials.

Mollie Reznick
Associate Director The College Connection

They are preferred.

At this point in time, since MOST colleges are accepting applications online that is now the preferred method. Many schools will no longer even accept paper applications. With the rise of the common application (where you can apply to about 500 schools using a single application (, it is simply easier for students to apply online. This also cuts down on a great deal of paper work as more and more schools are even reviewing applications online.