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Instant or fast applications have been getting a great deal of attention. While they remain highly controversial, the response from students and their increased use by colleges make them an undeniable factor in admissions today.

What is an instant application?

An instant application is a print or electronic application that has been pre-populated with a student's name, address and other information obtained from the student search records or when the student inquired about the college. The application is mailed or e-mailed to the student, who simply signs or submits it online, at which point it is considered and counted as an application by the college. Sometimes the student updates her or his information before submitting it. In most cases, the student must later submit test scores, transcripts, recommendations, and essays, but the college considers the submission of this initial form an application.

The Pitfalls

While there are some obvious ethical problems in considering this a serious application, there is no doubt this practice is a direct response to the mounting pressure being placed on admissions offices to increase the number of applications. A significant factor is the weight placed on the ratio of applications to admitted students by the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Every college realizes that it appears more selective (and therefore stands a better chance of improving its standing in the rankings) if it increases the number of applications but keeps constant the number of students admitted. Instant applications become a quick means of increasing application numbers, regardless of the student's seriousness about attending. As more and more colleges use these tactics, it increases the pressure on others to follow suit. Here are some potential damages from this practice:

  1. It encourages students to apply who know little or nothing about the college
  2. Many of these students may have no intention of enrolling and are just going through the motion of submitting an application
  3. It greatly skews a college's ability to accurately predict enrollment, because the instant applicants are inherently not as serious about enrolling as traditional applicants
  4. Many colleges consider the surge of instant applications to be hard applications and can become seriously underenrolled when they don't materialize into enrolled students

The SNAPPLICATION℠ Program and the GDA Difference

GDAIS has developed a pre-populated application system to combat these common pitfalls. While the pressure to increase applications is real, we think it can be done a better way. We developed the SNAPPLICATION Recruitment and Retention Application Program as a recruitment tool -- not just an application. We use pre-populated forms to encourage student response and eliminate redundant data entry by students (our research consistently shows this is a pet peeve of college-bound Millennials).

The key difference is how we train the admissions staff to work with the submitted SNAPPLICATIONS. Although the college can count them as applications, we feel the admissions staff should consider these students hot prospects who must then be recruited on a one-to-one level. Our SNAPPLICATIONS are designed to provide a savvy admissions counselor with all the academic and personal learning preferences of students, so they can recruit them into successful, satisfied, enrolled students. Students who are recruited this way are much more likely to enroll and graduate. This is why we consider our SNAPPLICATION a Recruitment and Retention Program.

In addition, we have successfully used our SNAPPLICATION in combination with our Predictive Modeling, which allows us to maximize the search pool by identifying those students most likely to apply and enroll. By looking back at your prior year enrollment, we create an algorithm to identify the students from the current pool most likely to apply and enroll. The Snapplication is then focused on those students with whom it will have the greatest success and, in turn, provide the admissions staff with a group of genuinely interested students to recruit.

To learn more about the Snapplication and our Predictive Modeling, please contact Jonathan Steele at 617-395-8330.