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Internet U : Cal State, UC Schools Move Students' Application Process Online

November 02, 1996|STEVE BERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — For college applicants who have to keep bottles of white-out handy when filling out admission forms, relief is on the way.

Cross-outs and type between the lines became a thing of the past for many students Friday as California's two major university systems put their application process on the Internet.

More important, errors will be held to a minimum because students can simply shade and move course titles and other information to the proper spaces without retyping.

And if a question stumps applicants? No problem. They can e-mail the admissions office and receive an immediate--at least in theory--answer.

The California State University system gets about 250,000 applications each year at its 23 institutions. It expects to get at least that many again this month for the 1997 fall semester. But college officials had no estimates on how many might apply electronically.

At the nine-campus University of California system, officials are starting with a smaller test project that will involve students from 58 high schools and community colleges, including six from the Los Angeles area. About 2,000 students are expected to apply electronically.

About 70,000 students file about 110,000 applications each year, said Carla M. Ferri, director of undergraduate admissions for the UC system.

Electronic applications will be open to all applicants next year, assuming all goes well this year, Ferri said.

If the performance of about a dozen students during a demonstration Friday at Taft High School in Woodland Hills is any indication, prospects look good. With ease and speed, several students zipped through an eight-page application.

Doron Beeri, a 17-year-old senior who is considering several colleges, including UC Berkeley, needed no prompting from an instructor as he typed the information for his application into an IBM computer.

"I am very enthusiastic about this," he said. "You can do it in about half the time."

Looking over his shoulder, Nancy Kuenyehia, 17, said students who are not familiar with computers--like her--have nothing to fear.

"It was quite easy for me," she said.

Nancy, Doron and the other students at Friday's demonstration have volunteered to help other students at Taft fill out their electronic applications.

UC's electronic application is part of the university's World Wide Web information system, which it calls Pathways.

The information sites for UC can tell students about housing, courses, faculty, financial aid and extracurricular activities. Although the UC electronic applications are available only to students in the 58 schools this year, anyone with a computer and a link to the Internet can now get campus information electronically.

Eventually, when the experts add final touches, students will be able to chat via the Internet with guidance counselors and advisors as early as the ninth grade, with grade transcripts from other schools and colleges and SAT scores transmitted electronically.

UC and Cal State also are working on plans for a joint electronic-application system, in which each campus will use similar admission applications. But Carleen Bentley-Adler, spokeswoman for the Cal State system, said no completion date has been set.

The Cal State application program is part of a $350-million, four-year plan to use computers to provide services and information to students, to train faculty and staff members, and help with administrative functions.

Eventually, university officials said, cyberspace will speed up another time-consuming and often nerve-biting part of college admissions--acceptance letters.

The following computer addresses for the two systems are: http://www.xap.com/xapWWW/Calif/csu.html for Cal State, and http//www.ucop.edu/pathways for UC.

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