Craig Hubbell, associate director of admissions at UCLA, said Matchbox’s tabs allow admissions officers to move pertinent student information into categories that determine admittance, including academics, focus, leadership, interpersonal skills, verbal skills, and community contributions.

“We feel like we jumped a generation,” he said. “It’s made our evaluations more thorough and faster because we can really cut to the chase.”

Matchbox isn’t the first cloud-based college application software used in higher education. Schools also use ApplyYourself and Common App – among others – to move application data to the web.

Most campuses’ applications material, however, remain paper-based.

Marcus said he designed the iPad app as an alumni member of the MIT Sloan Admissions Committee in part because admissions offices were scrambling to keep up with a mounting workload.

Applications to colleges and universities increased by 41 percent between 2003 and 2009, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. In response to the flux of applications, colleges spend about $11.7 billion annually on recruitment-related staff and expenses.

And the ratio of college applicants to successful enrollments has dipped in recent years, reaching a low of 46 percent in 2009.

“The pain in this market is palpable and extends into many other areas of recruitment that we are determined to solve,” Marcus said.

Moving massive amounts of application data to the web and making the information accessible via computer tablet could prove a shrewd long-term budget strategy for admissions departments, said Katherine Cohen, CEO of IvyWise, a New York-based counseling company.

“Certainly there is a benefit to anything that reduces expenses of the use of paper,” she said.  “From a sheer volume perspective, admissions officers may often be tasked with carrying around large volumes of reading, either to and from home, or on the road. The Kindle has allowed book readers to carry multiple volumes on a small, portable device, and this same approach can be used in admissions files.”


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