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Week of 26 September 1997

Vol. I, No. 5

Feature Article

Application by click

"Rave reviews" for Admissions Office's new Web site

by Brian Fitzgerald

A snarling face greets Internet users who visit the BU Office of Admissions' new Web site (www.bu.edu/ADMISSIONS). But no need to be put off: it's only Rhett, the University's macho mascot -- and two seconds later the dog's demeanor changes with a friendly wink.

The winking Boston terrier welcomes cybersurfers to a Web site that is not only much more appealing to the eye than the office's previous effort, but also much more comprehensive, according to Admissions Director Thomas Rajala. "It's a work in progress" he says, explaining that a Web site "is always a work in progress. But we're getting rave reviews on this enhanced version. The 'Comment on Our Website' link is receiving a tremendous amount of positive feedback. High school students, teachers, and parents seem to love it."

The Admissions Web site's previous incarnation, which appeared a year ago, contained just three pages. "We worked with the BU Publications Office and an outside designer and came up with a preliminary version this summer," says Rajala. "After a couple of revisions it was ready in mid-September. When you click there now, it provides a doorway to several hundred pages."

Indeed, when one scrolls down past Rhett and a scarlet and white BU Office of Admissions sign that is framed with ivy, seven links appear: Admissions Connection (a guide to undergraduate admissions), Academic Life, Financial Aid, Visit Us (a virtual tour of Boston University), Student Life, About BU, and Frequently Asked Questions. A click on Admissions Connection reveals another seven links, including admissions requirements and standards, important admissions dates and deadlines, and application procedures for transfer, international, and graduate students.

Thomas Rajala

Thomas Rajala

Another Admissions Connection link, CollegeEdge, contains the on-line version of Boston University's application for admission, which a student can complete and securely transmit over the Web. "By the beginning of October a downloadable version of BU's admission application will also be ready," says Associate Director of Admissions Sharon Bauman, who helped launch her office's new site. "A student will be able to print out an application and mail it in."

The Admissions Office expanded its Web site because within the past year students' interest in using the Internet in their college search -- and in the application process -- has grown dramatically, says Rajala. Maguire Associates, a research firm in Bedford, Mass., told Rajala that well over half of the high school students it polled were planning to use the Web in their college search. The Art and Science Group, another research firm, said that 60 percent of the students it polled recently were interested in looking into, and applying to, colleges electronically. "That number was up from 15 percent a year ago," says Rajala.

Rajala says that using the Internet is an important extension of the Admissions Office's efforts to get students to visit the campus to see if BU is the right place for them. Indeed, one of the first messages seen on the site is BU's fall Open House on October 26. "Everything we do, whether it's in print, in person, or on the Net, is to encourage people to come and have a look at this place for themselves," he says.