PULLMAN, Wash. — More than six months in development, a new online admissions application form for Washington State University’s Graduate School became operational this week.
The computer-based system permits prospective graduate students, including those from overseas, to complete application forms and to pay application fees directly from their own computers, via the World Wide Web.
It is the university’s first step in moving to a paper-free admissions application process. A similar program for undergraduate admissions applications is expected to be in place by late fall.
Karen DePauw, interim dean of the Graduate School, said a goal of the 1997-98 Strategic Plan was to improve efficiency and effectiveness of operations and increase the use of electronic processes in support of graduate education.
The online web application process will increase visibility and access for graduate education, and WSU will be able to compete more effectively for quality graduate students, DePauw said.
Applicants can access the online admissions forms from the Graduate School’s web home page (http://www.wsu.edu/~gradsch/grdadmit.html). To complete the form online, payment of the $35 application fee by credit card number is required.
A secure web server at WSU’s Information Technology offices protects the credit card number, explained Donna Blacker, who assisted in the development of the online program for the Graduate School.
Information Technology support staff member Jack Alilunas developed the project, with help from Lavon Frazier, Nancy Miller and Terry Buckles of IT. Margo Balzarini, admissions manager for Graduate Admissions, was in charge of the project with computer support from Donna Blacker.
An alternative to online payment is to download or print the application forms, which can be filled out and mailed to the university with a check.
The new system will be especially valuable for international students who often fall victim to deadlines, Blacker said. A series of deadlines must be satisfied for an international student to be eligible to study here. Sometimes an international applicant is eligible for admission but, because of missed deadlines, their application can’t be processed in time for them to get a visa to enter the country.
The information received through the online applications is shared with the academic departments in which students have expressed interest. Blacker and Balzarini have been conducting training sessions for staff who will be working with the data. A workshop for faculty graduate coordinators is planned for early fall.
Officials hope the online system will expedite electronic communications with prospective students. The Graduate School receives an average of 200 e-mail messages a day asking for information. Total inquires exceed 20,000 and applications total about 6,000 each year, Balzarini said. Last year’s graduate student enrollment was 2,019.