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?

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.

王文君 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.

Kiersten Murphy
Executive Director and Founder Murphy College Consultants LLC

Follow a College's Directions

Most colleges today offer an online version of their application, and sometimes it is the only way to apply to that college. Be mindful of each school's requirements and if they give no preference to online vs. paper, decide which is best for you.

Reena Gold Kamins
Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.

Online applications are preferred.

Not all students have regular access to the internet. Therefore, no student will be penalized for submitting a paper application. However, many schools no longer print them as they want as many of their applicants as possible to apply on-line.

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.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Paper applications? Do we still have those?

College will evaluate applications equally whether you apply using a paper application, an online common application, or a school specific online application. However, from an administrative perspective, colleges favor online applications because they require less time and effort to process. This is why you may receive offers from some schools willing to waive application fees if you apply online-only before a given date. Your choice of application format will not influence the admissions decision, but I think we will see fewer and fewer paper applications over the next few years.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

paper? who uses paper?

Apply online. Every high school in the country has a computer. Colleges will read a paper application, but they are virtually non-existent.

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

Short Answer: Basically, yes. Detailed Answer: They prefer that you apply online, because it's less paper handling and fewer mistakes on the inputting of your data. And often colleges will charge less (or zero) for an online application and charge more for one submitted on paper. Sometimes you get your decision faster, too, if you apply online.

Amberley Wolf
College Consultant Wolf College Consulting

Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

Many colleges do accept both online and paper applications. It is recommended that you fill the application online (if possible). By filling out a paper application, the process may be a bit delayed due to the application being entered into their database manually. Filling out a paper application should not affect your likeliness of being accepted, but colleges do prefer the online application.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

Absolutely! It actually is the preferred method (cost, timeliness, communications with high school counselors, etc.) at many campuses across the country (but not all) and it provides an admissions office more flexibility in allowing various personnel to review it. And of course lets not forget, it reduces paper waste which is a notorious problem at universities and helps them go green!