MIT Sloan to Begin Using iPads to Review Applications

MIT Sloan Admission Guide

Rod Garcia reviews your application on his iPad

Today 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, which was one of the first business schools to require applicants to submit their applications online back in the 1990s, estimates that the move will save the school $10,000 per year in paper costs.

The way many schools work now is fairly inefficient. Virtually every school now accepts (or even requires) online applications, but often the first thing that admissions officers do with a newly received 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 God-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. 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. (See? One of our predictions for 2011 already looks like it was on the money! We should buy a lottery ticket.)

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