Common App Needs a Reality Check

The Common Application now works on mobile (photo credit: Namkota).

It’s not April Fools’ Day. The Common Application announced today that they’ve developed a mobile version of their platform. This way, students can apply to colleges on their phones. Does anyone else see the issue we happen to see? Who on planet earth applies to college on their phones? In between ordering pizza on Seamless and sending a text to your best friend while in a mask on a socially distanced subway car, you’re supposed to complete — and submit — your application to Harvard? “Excuse me, Sir, would you mind not singing for dollars a few feet away from me…I’m trying to write my Why UPenn essays.” See how that goes over.

Common App. is Following the Lead of Ill-Fated Quibi

One would think that The Common Application was taken over by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, the leaders of the short-lived Quibi, which hoped to share short-form content with viewers on mobile devices. It was one of Hollywood’s big bets of 2020. The company secured hundreds of millions of dollars of funding. It was sure to be a success, right? Wrong. As it turns out, people weren’t really “on the go” in 2020 since we were all stuck at home and, as it turns out, people don’t want to watch short-form TV shows and such on their phones. Who knew?

Common App. is Solving a Non-Existent Problem

Yet it seems, like Quibi, Common App. is trying to solve a problem that just doesn’t exist. As the organization writes in an email of today about their Common App. for mobile, “It’s now easier than ever to apply to college. Common App for mobile lets you navigate the entire college application journey directly on your mobile phone or tablet. Now you can do everything you need to do on Common App from your mobile device. You can search more than 900 Common App member colleges, gather application material, write and review essays, and submit your application. Common App for mobile is free and available on most iOS and Android devices. Download the app today to work on your application whenever and wherever works for you.”

Common App’s Intention Was Likely Good, But It’s Not Practical

Oy vey is right! Common App., there are glitches with your platform just about every year. There are sections that remain totally imperfect. Might you invest your time improving your college application rather than solving a problem that isn’t a problem for anyone at all? What world do you live in that you think students will be writing essays on their phones? If you created this mobile application because some low-income students don’t have broadband access at home and their only reliable internet is on their phones, we nonetheless find it highly unlikely these students are going to be working on their applications on five-inch screens. It’s just not going to happen.

 
 

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