Common Application Issues

Common App Issues, Issues with Common Application, Common App

Having an issue with the Common Application this year? Know that you’re not alone.

Experiencing Common Application issues this year? You might want to read this. Did you know that there are 517 colleges in the United States and around the world that subscribe to the Common Application? Did you know that during the 2012-2013 admissions season, over 2.3 million applications were submitted through the Common Application, and that was a 10% increase over the 2011-2012 admissions cycle? Did you know that with 517 colleges and over 2 million applications, the Common Application has a technical support team of a mere 35? That’s right – 35!

This support team of 35 has proven that they’re not exactly on top of even these preliminary issues we’ve encountered early on in this college admissions cycle so we can’t imagine what’s going to happen on a deadline day when hundreds of thousands of students end up submitting their application at the last minute.

These are just some of the current issues we’re experiencing and hearing about:

1. Students are filling out help tickets but not getting responses. The officials at Common App. are saying that the students are receiving answers, but the emails are getting caught up in their spam filters.

2. There’s no “save” button so when the Common App. shuts down by itself — and it does quite often — all recent work is lost.

3. In the boxes for the cut and paste essays, there are no tabs to indicate new paragraphs and the CA4 does not allow the user to double space between paragraphs, so you wonder how a reader is going to fully appreciate your essay when 650 words are all clumped together in one paragraph. 

4. Some of the supplemental applications have word limits for their essays, but most don’t. When the colleges submitted their supplemental essay questions to the Common App., those questions included word limits. Common App. posted some of them and not others.

5. Green check marks should mean that a particular section of the Common App. is completed. But the green check marks on the individual sections of the Common App. and the Common Application Supplement can pop up even when a section is completely blank, and it can be missing when a section is completed. 

6. On the previous version of the Common Application, students were encouraged to do a print preview before they submitted the application so that they could see if anything on the application got truncated. On this new version – the CA4 – you can’t do a print preview until after you submit the application. Students who have been able to submit their apps are now seeing that while all the text was in the appropriate boxes on the online version, once they submit their application and do a print preview of both the Common App. and the Supplemental Application they see how the text got truncated. And now the college has gotten the truncated version.

7. Students who have attempted to hit the submit button on their Common Application and Supplemental Application may think they’ve submitted both parts only to find out that their applications were not submitted because the counselor never linked the Common Application to the student’s Naviance account.  

8. The new CA4 is causing applicants to go in circles.  When students are trying to submit the application, they’re prompted to pay the application fee first. When they try to pay the application fee, they’re prompted to submit the application first.

9. It seems as if the Common App. isn’t designed to know when a student already submitted an application to a particular college because a student can submit more than one application to that same college just by clicking again on the submit button. 

10. Once a student pays the application fee, verification of that payment is not immediate and so the student doesn’t know if the payment actually was submitted. The Common App. also doesn’t seem to stop a student from paying more than once for the same application.

These are some major issues with the Common Application that we’re bringing to the forefront. We anticipate a prompt response from the Common App. And if you have experienced Common Application issues that we haven’t raised, feel free to post a Comment below so that we can bring these issues up as well.

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  • Loretta Gastwirth says:

    The application asks how many times you have taken the SAT. Guidance counselors are encouraging students to answer 1 even though they have taken the test the usual 2 or 3 times. Some Ivies require all scores to be sent; other Ivies and selective schools do not. What number goes in the box — especially if your highest scores were in one sitting? What is the purpose of the question if the scores are being sent in accordance with the college’s policies anyway, which makes abundantly clear. Can you get the commonapp folks to remove the question? It is fraught with potential to be dubbed a fibber if the number is not correct. By the way — when I have asked this question of the help center (that lists no phone number), they have not had a responsive answer. (College Confidential is replete with pleas from students to get a response.) Please advise.

    • Bev Taylor says:

      Not sure why school counselors would tell students to write that they’ve only taken the SAT once if they’ve taken it two or three times, but if you’re hearing this on College Confidential then don’t believe everything you read. Kids who comment on College Confidential typically have hidden agendas. Think about it – these kids have their own interests first and foremost and, at the same time, they may be looking to sabotage their competition.

      So here’s your answer: If you’ve taken the SAT once, then the answer is 1. If you’ve taken it twice, then the answer is 2. If you’ve taken it three times, then the answer is 3. And if you’ve taken it more than that…get a life!

  • Ben Smith says:

    I continue to have trouble accessing the common application recommendation page to upload your recommendation.
    The page refuses to allow me to create an account, although it does have my e mail.
    Any suggestions?

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