Apply for college the high-tech way

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Somewhere around this time of the year, about 120 years ago, when I was a senior in high school applying for colleges, I could have used something like this service. Of course, with the advent of the Internet and other technologies, there are a million things I could say that about.

But I thought I'd tell people about CollegeZapps, a company I recently learned about. It's seeking to make a business out of that one tedious, hair-pulling, once-in-a-lifetime rituals: applying for colleges.
It's bad enough suffering through the stress of wondering where and if you'll get in to the college of your choice. You have to suffer through the whole process as well.

There's the paperwork; the forms, the essays, the recommendations. It's all very draining, or at least it was back in 1993, 1987 or 1964. If you were really ambitious and applying for multiple schools, the task took on the magnitude of a part-time job. I'm sure it's why I didn't apply to more than two schools, if I remember correctly. I was accepted into Indiana University, a school that was very high on my list, and the thought of applying to more universities was something I dreaded.

Which is why I admire the ingenuity of whomever came up with this idea about a year ago. (CollegeZapps is a company owned by another company called Efficient Forms.)

So, anyway, it works like this: You sign up with CollegeZapps, which says it has the application forms for every university of more than 1,500 students. It promises that you'll never have to answer the same question twice -- so typing in your name, your address, your parents' names and all of that biographical information over and over is a thing of the past. It streamlines everything, making everything easier if you're applying to several colleges, and then at the end, you can print out a professional-looking application " in each school's preferred format," according to the web site.

If you're just applying to one or two colleges, it may not be worth it -- the service is $5 per college -- since you could probably just as easily do everything yourself, just as well, and save five bucks. But if you're applying to a dozen universities for undergraduate degrees, since they don't yet do law, medical or graduate school, I can see how this could be well worth the money and how it could save a high school senior more than a few headaches. But not all headaches. No matter what, you still have to wow the college admissions board by writing those better-be-mesmerizing-or-else essay questions.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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