UnhAPPy? Common App. causing college applicants issues all over the country.

Andras Doolittle

Common App Acts Up Amidst Release of Fourth Generation Application Launch

It was a frustrating Tuesday for Lehigh Carbon Community College student Andrew McReynolds.

“I went to submit my essay for The Common App, and was redirected to the login page,” McReynolds wrote as his Facebook status on Tuesday. “[The Common Application] recently updated their website, and if you follow Common Application on Facebook you can get a daily update of what’s going wrong as a result. Oh boy!”

McReynolds, who is applying for transfer to four-year colleges, has been one of many students experiencing issues with the Common Application.

This year, the Common Application has introduced its new and improved 2013-2014 application. It has been completely refaced and essay choices modified.

Technical difficulties and glitches have been widespread over the past few weeks, causing chaos for many unsuspecting applicants. The glitches range from students being unable to access their accounts, to applications closing unexpectedly after students sit for close to an hour in suspense waiting for their applications to be submitted, only to discover it has not gone through.

To accommodate applicants who have faced problems with the Common Application, various colleges have adjusted early decision/action deadlines.

“Yes, we are experiencing issues similar to what other colleges are reporting,” Lafayette Assistant Dean of Admissions Sue Burns said. “However, we are dedicated to working with Common App to make this work.”

In addition to dealing with glitches, some schools are turning to the Universal College Application, which currently has 37 member colleges. The membership includes Harvard, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and Tufts. Princeton University, known for being an exclusive user of the Common Application, brought positive attention to the company when it joined a few weeks ago.

High school guidance counselors have tried to rectify problems.

“The Common Application problems are adding a level of anxiety to an already stressful time for high school students,” said Marcia Hunt, Director of College Counseling at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and former President of the National Association for College Admission Counseling .“ The Common Application is being completely transparent about these issues and have hired numerous additional staff members to help students, schools and colleges to navigate this process.”

According to Hunt, colleges have extended their first application deadlines. These colleges include Cornell, U. Chicago, Yale, Tufts, Boston University, University of Miami Miami, Johns Hopkins, Georgia Tech and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When asked whether Lafayette was in any position to extend their early deadline, Burns said, “Our ED I deadline is November 15 and so we are optimistic that all will be fine both from our end and the students’ and counselors’ end.”

Dr. Amy Sack is the founder and president of Admissions Accomplished, LLC., a company that assists students through the admissions process. Sack noted that her clients are experiencing difficulties with the Common Application including error messages when logging on. She is assuring them that things will be fine as college admissions offices are being very understanding. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Sack has been through admission seasons plagued by natural disasters like last year’s Hurricane Sandy, so she feels confident that the technical issues will definitely be fixed.

Though Sack noted the Universal College Application as an alternative, it won’t dramatically play a role in colleges leaving the Common App. In fact, Sack is more curious to see how colleges will react to the new essays.

“It will be interesting to see if admission offices get essays that they like,” she said.