On-line applications on the rise

About 450 students have applied to Wharton's graduate programs on-line, thanks to a new process rolled out in November, said Robert Alig, Wharton's director of MBA admissions and financial aid.

While 450 applications out of the 6,500 received so far may seem infinitesimal, the on-line applicants discovered the program purely through word-of-mouth. Wharton plans to begin promoting the option for next year, and expects a major increase in the number of electronic applications, Alig said.

"So many students were logging onto the Web site to find out about Wharton," Alig said. "This really makes it easier for prospective students, and it's a huge help for international students."

Last year, Wharton explored a server that linked with five different MBA programs, simultaneously submitting student applications to other schools besides Wharton, but decided to create its own to set Wharton apart, according to Alig.

Applicants submit all their biographical information through the Web and pay the application fee with a credit card. They then follow up with hard copies of their essays, transcripts and recommendations. "The beauty for us is that electronic information is automatically uploaded in our database," Alig said, adding it saves them from having to hire a temp to input hard-copy data and speeds the application processing time.

In addition to applications, nearly 3,200 people have set up accounts on the Wharton Web site and more than 1,000 requests for catalogs have been received electronically, Alig said.

While other graduate programs use a popular on-line application process, "PennExpressApp," the option is not yet open to undergraduates. That could change next year, said Margaret Porigow, director of admissions operations and technology, who said on-line applications could be available to students as soon as the fall semester.

Originally published on March 19, 1998