MIT Sloan Admissions Office Ditches Paper in Favor of iPads

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that the MIT Sloan admissions office has purchased 15 iPads, which its admissions officers will use to review applications in a 100% paper-free environment. Sloan admissions officers estimate that the move will save the school $10,000 per year in paper costs.

The funny thing is that, although most schools moved to online application systems years ago, usually the first thing that admissions officers do with a newly received electronic application is print it out. From there, the paper application goes through a process that has barely changed in decades: It moves from one pile to the next, from one admissions officers’ hands to the next, until it has been reviewed at least a couple of times. While the online application systems make for better tracking, today schools rarely take advantage of this. Now, however, if Sloan can keep every application entirely online, it can make for much more efficient reviewing and tracking of each application.

While much will probably be made of the fact that Sloan will use iPads for this new way of reviewing the 5,000 or so applications it receives each year, we find this move to be interesting whether they’re using iPads, laptops, or anything else electronic. Why? Because, as schools move towards working more multimedia responses into their applications, it only makes sense to keep the entire application in electronic form. Right now, a school that accepts a video “essay” response must match up each video with the rest of an applicant’s file, which is probably a stack of paper that’s sitting in a pile somewhere — who knows where! — in the admissions office.

Why not review everything in one place? Imagine clicking here to review an applicant’s data sheet, clicking there to read Essay #1, and then scrolling down to pull up a short video from that applicant. Pretty cool!

This move to an all-electronic system makes it easier to seamlessly work such multimedia responses in with the rest of the applications. We wouldn’t be surprised if this move precedes a move by Sloan to work multimedia into its applications over the next year or so.

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