in the News

News Article

Technology & You
November 11, 1999

Edited by Stephen H. Wildstrom

Web Destinations

Millions of American families with high school seniors are facing one of the most traumatic rites of passage: choosing and applying to colleges. The Web can't reduce the angst involved, but it can definitely make the logistics a lot easier.

Many sites offer similar information: General data on schools, comparison tools, advice on picking the right college, and guides to financial aid. Many also let you complete an application online. One site,, goes further. Its parent company,, supplies application management software to a number of universities. Applying to one of these "partner schools" from the Embark sites automatically ties the applicant into the school's back-office system. That makes it easier for the college to communicate with the applicant and for the student to check on the progress of the application. Embark currently offers electronic applications for about 50 undergraduate schools, with more signing up regularly.

Peterson's, the publisher of popular college guides, operates one of the most comprehensive application Web sites at CollegeQuest features very good tools to help choose a college, plus online forums with experts to get personalized advice on the process. Unfortunately, as of mid-October, an attempt to fill out an application produced a page saying "We are busy readying our college applications"--a real problem for students facing Nov. 1 early-admission deadlines.

Most students find the admissions essay the most grueling part of the application. offers a unique service that promises to ease the pain. Students can submit a draft essay, and for $99.95 (or $299.95 for a bundle of four essays) myEssay's panel of experts, including former admissions officers, will review the essay "the same way your top-choice school will." For those who find the price steep, or who have ethical qualms about a professional review of student essays, the Web site does offer free advices on how to write a successful essay.

Some old standbys continue to offer useful advice on admissions. It's too late for most students to get help on the SAT or ACT exams, but and The Princeton Review's offer a lot of useful information beyond promotion of their cram courses. The College Board offers help on preparing for next spring's advanced placement exams at And for those who consider numerical ranking of colleges important, U.S. News & World Report offers the most popular set at