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College Admissions Consultant

Major Problems with the Common Application

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The Common Application, which has been around since 1975 and now has over 500 colleges as members, underwent a comprehensive overhaul and made its debut on August 1, 2013 as the CA4.

Having participated in a webinar back in May, I was aware of the proposed changes, including big changes to the essay, and was not troubled by them. The application would undergo a major change to software that is multi-layered and complex. For example, it will populate specific fields based on how the student responds to certain questions and allow for more editing on the student’s part. It all sounded so good. As with any new system, I expected a few glitches. There were glitches and some instructions were unclear, but the Common Application team seemed to be addressing them quickly and I was sure they would be fixed in plenty of time to submit.

Ten weeks later, the problems have not been solved and every day seems to bring new issues to vex students, counselors, consultants and college admissions. Issues have involved the ability of high schools to upload their documents, the student’s ability to see the application as a pdf and print it before sending, to trouble submitting the applications.  The latest issue started over this past weekend with the site not progressing and finally on Monday, Oct. 14, students could not log on.

What is the big deal? Well, Monday, Oct. 14 was a day off of school –the Columbus Day holiday—and a perfect day to get some applications completed. But, more importantly, it was the day before the Oct. 15 deadline for a few colleges. I have several students this year applying to colleges with Oct. 15 deadlines and the tensions ran high. Why not just submit a paper application, you may well ask. The answer is that there is no paper application this year.

Around noon on Monday, Oct. 14, two colleges—The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgia Tech– announced that they would extend their early action deadline to Oct. 21.

I certainly hope that things can be worked out by then.

Janet Rosier

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