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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 11/14/2010

Be careful of 'snap apps' in college admissions

By Valerie Strauss

If your home life revolves around the college application process at the moment or will someday, you should know about “snap apps” to avoid being fooled.

Snap apps are applications that colleges and universities send out that invite students to submit without paying a fee or writing an essay. Some of the information is already filled in for the student, just to make things as easy as possible.

These applications have different names: Some are called express applications, or they come labeled "VIP applications," but they all are sent with the same end in mind: To get a student to apply. Students are selected by colleges sometimes because they have shown an interest in the school by visiting or seeking information, while some schools target students with high test scores or some other academic honor.

These applications can leave a kid who receives one with the the illusion that they have a leg up when it comes to getting admitted. They don't, and some kids are stunned when they get rejected, having assumed they were wanted by the school and had an easy way in.

Schools use these “snap apps” for different reasons, some legitimate and some less so.

Some struggling schools have turned to the “snap apps” to attract more applicants to stay alive. It is one way for schools to reach a cohort of students who might never otherwise know about a particular institution. And some schools give some credit to “snap apps” for widening their college pool.

There are, though, many schools that send them out simply to increase the number of applications they receive so they can brag about it.

Remember: There is no guarantee that submitting one of these fast applications will get anyone admitted, or even get them special consideration.

If your child is really interested in a school that sends one of these applications, consider the regular application because it will give the school a fuller picture.

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 14, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, college applications, getting into college, snap apps, vip applications  
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As a college consultant, I have had many students receive these "snap apps" and sometimes they are flattered by them. I always tell students that there is no sense in applying to a school that does not interest you. Why spend the time doing an application to a school that you have no intention of attending?

Susie Watts
Denver, Colorado

Posted by: collegedirection | November 14, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I filled one of these out something similar about 20 years ago. The school called me and offered a full scholarship. I am sure they were just looking at people with near perfect SATs to up their average, but I ended up taking the offer.

Posted by: staticvars | November 15, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

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