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iPad App Tackles Admissions Application Review

Matchbox has developed an iPad app for reviewing andevaluating university admissions applications. The app, alsocalled Matchbox, replaces the paper-based application review process.Five admissions offices at the MIT Sloan School of Management and theMBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management have already usedMatchbox for several rounds of admissions.

Matchbox Founder and CEO Stephen Marcus was a member of theAdmissions Committee at MIT Sloan when the admissions director askedhim to build an iPad app. "It was supposed to be a summer project thattook a few months," said Marcus. "It ended up taking eight months, andthe product was quite comprehensive when we were done with it."

Before developing Matchbox, the application review process wasentirely paper-based. "I would pull out the application and spread itout over a table with the scorecard on my right," said Marcus. "As Iwas reading, I would jot down my notes. It would take anywhere fromhalf an hour toan hour to read an application."

With Matchbox, reviewers were able to get through anapplication two or three times faster. "If it took us half an hour toread an application, it would take us 15 minutes now," said Marcus. "The transcription went quite a bit quicker."

Matchbox displays admissions applications, including anyaccompanying essays, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, as PDFfiles that can be annotated and highlighted.

"The way we score an application is by giving numeric valuesto specific competencies," said Jennifer Barba, associate director ofadmissions at MIT's Sloan School of Management. "In order to give aspecific score, we have to support that score with evidence within theapplication."

"I'm able to save a lot of time when I'm reading applicationsnow," said Barba. "Before I would have to write out all of thatevidence onthe handwritten scorecard. Now I can just tap it with my finger,highlight it, assign a category, and it's done."

She added she also appreciates the portability of Matchbox. "We'rereading a lot of files all at once and we're travelling forinterviews," saidBarba. "Before we had Matchbox we had to carry all of the files withus. We would travel somewhere to do interviews, and we'd be carrying asuitcase full of files with us. Now it's a very simple process. We justsave everything to our iPad and we're on our way."

Admissions applications are downloaded to Matchbox on theiPad, so users can review them offline. User credentials, passcodes,encryption,and other security features are designed to help ensure the security of data on theiPad. The information itself synchronizes with Matchbox's cloud-basedinfrastructure, which is hosted by Amazon and Rackspace, both of whichare are SAS70 Type II, PCI Level 1, and HIPPA certified to ensure thatdata on the servers is secure.

Developers can build on the Matchbox platform using theMatchbox API, which accepts and returns both JSON and XML data.Matchbox can alsointegrate with systems such as ApplyYourself, Common Application,CollegeNet, Symplicity, Peoplesoft Campus, Banner, Matrix, Salesforce,Saleslogix, and Intelliworks.

Matchbox also enables users to:

  • Score candidates based on a number of dimensions customizedfor theirschool;
  • View the scores and comments of previous reviewers;
  • Synchronize evaluation data with a central system; and
  • Color-code highlighted text according to scoring criteria.

Other key features of Matchbox include:

  • Customizable roles for users;
  • Expiration dates to force reviewers to complete evaluationsby aspecified deadline;
  • Institutional templates;
  • Analytics on admissions process metrics such as demographicsnapshotsof the applicant pool, comparison graphs of ratings across reviewersand interviewers, reading time across reviewers, and managing wait listcandidates; and
  • Customizable services and solutions.

Matchbox is available now. For more information, visit theMatchbox site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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