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Applying to PHCC now only requires a computer

This week the school begins moving many services - including student applications - to the World Wide Web.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 16, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Babette Agett was having a hard time getting her stepson to fill out college applications -- until she told him he could do it online.

"Once I explained that all he had to do was click a few buttons, that was it," Agett said. "That's what they understand. They understand online and computers. Once they understand everything's online, they can handle it."

Her plan was working perfectly -- until her stepson, Gulf High School senior James Doyle, logged onto the Web site for Pasco-Hernando Community College.

"We couldn't believe it," Agett said.

There was no application.

That changes this week when PHCC makes its first step toward a major move of student services into cyberspace, PHCC officials said.

The school will become the 23rd of the state's 28 community colleges to make its application available online. While students won't be able to submit the application through the Internet (only two community colleges, Santa Fe and Miami-Dade, offer that service), they will be able to print it, fill it out and mail it in.

"It's part of a process where you can do everything -- eventually -- electronically," spokeswoman Lynn Rothman-Venus said.

PHCC is part of an effort being dubbed as "largest ever collaboration" by Florida colleges.

The effort will land PHCC's application this summer on a Web site that will allow students to fill out one application and click the schools they want to receive it, said Connie Graunke of the Florida Community College System.

Then would-be students can send their applications to PHCC without using a single piece of paper.

PHCC and about 10 other schools are expected to be online by June, Graunke said.

Eventually the Web site, http://www.facts.org, will enable students to apply to all 10 state universities and all 28 community colleges.

In time, the site, which stands for Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students, plans to allow prospective students to pick a major and see what schools offer it, Graunke said. They will also be able to link to an application for financial aid.

After enrollment, students will be able to pay for school, check their transcript, see what classes they need to graduate and apply to transfer -- all through the site, Graunke said.

"From the student perspective, they get to shop around and see who's available and how they can get what they want," Graunke said. "A student at PHCC could send his transcript to USF and say 'If I want to major in engineering, what should I take?' "

PHCC is also moving independently toward online registration for classes, Rothman-Venus said.

The school is scheduled to begin phasing in online registration for its spring 2002 classes, Rothman-Venus said.

She was unsure exactly when this week online applications would become available. The school is still accepting applications for summer classes, which start May 10, Rothman-Venus said. Prospective students weren't able to apply online sooner, she said, because the college has only recently developed a new application form.

If it had been available sooner, the school would have likely scored at least one more student, James Doyle, said Agett, his stepmother.

"We figured we're going to make this easy and we're going to make this simple," she said. "We would have applied."

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