Shame on Common App

Shame on the Common App, Common App, The Common Application

Shame on Scott Anderson (pictured) and the Common App. Scott Anderson’s email to the NACAC listserve is utterly tone deaf and reflects poorly on his organization.

As a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), we often read interesting emails that are posted to the NACAC listserve. So too do thousands of others who are admissions officers, school counselors, independent / private college counselors, and journalists.

In a posting yesterday, an independent counselor, Alison Greene from Minnetonka, MN, who has reached out to us at Ivy Coach in the hope of finding a platform to lift her voice, wrote about her frustration regarding some glitch in accessing school forms — the school report, teacher evaluations, and midyear and final reports. She also asked if there was still an International School Report with this year’s Common App.

After several emails to the listserve, 73 people (school counselors and independent / private college counselors) wrote back to her saying that they didn’t know the answers but asked her to please post the answers on the listserve once she found out.

And so out of frustration (because no one who responded knew the answer), she wrote another email to the listserve but this time she directed a comment to Scott Anderson, the Senior Director of the Common App. In this email she wrote, “So Scott, since we’re all sure you’re reading these emails and snickering to yourself that you know the answer and we don’t, can you PLEASE explain how a student whose school is not listed (on the Common App) can print out PDF’s of these School Forms. Again, there is no internet or email access for the counselor or teachers at my student’s school. Also, still wondering if there’s an International School Report this year.”

Just as Alison expected, Scott Anderson responded, not to her directly, but to the entire listserve. And while that was good, he never answered her questions. Instead, what he said was that the student needs to ask the questions through the Common App. Help Center.

So, in other words, the Common App. is telling professionals — school counselors and independent college counselors — that they’re supposed to tell their students to find out these answers by themselves! If Scott Anderson is trying to make professionals in the college admissions field look less than helpful, informed, and knowledgeable to their students and parents, then he has succeeded.

In the time that it took Scott Anderson to write his response, he could have simply answered the question.

Here was his response: “Good morning, everyone. Allison, your message is a good opportunity to remind our friends in the counseling community that the quickest way to get assistance is to click the “Ask a Question” tab in our Help Center: The Help Center is staffed 24/7, and they have been responding to questions in under 30 minutes. (As an aside, if a question pertains to a student’s account, it’s aways better for the student to contact us directly at While everyone who works at Common App has a healthy sense of humor (it’s kind of a prerequisite for employment), none of us would take any pleasure in deliberately withholding helpful information–and certainly not in response to a direct question. Our goal, always, is accuracy–and when it comes to addressing the nuances of the application, my colleagues on the support team can run circles around me. I hope you’ll let them help you.”

Shame on Scott Anderson and shame on the Common Application!


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