AS if college hopefuls didn’t have enough decisions to make, here’s one more: which application to use.

Advances in digital technology have created competition for the Common Application, the pioneer of the one-app-fits-all concept, and so the ways to apply to college have multiplied in the last few years. There’s the upstart Universal College Application, similar in format to the Common Application, and portals like Xap, Embark and ConnectEdu, which make it easier to use a college’s own application.

That automation is important because a third of fall 2009 freshmen applied to six or more colleges, and fewer and fewer apply using paper forms. Eighty percent applied online in 2009, up from 58 percent only three years earlier, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

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