With early admissions decisions coming up quickly, high school seniors and colleges that they're applying to are having trouble with the Common Application, a program that allows applicants to send a single application to multiple schools. The problems have led many colleges to rearrange their admissions schedules and caused worrying among seniors who are encountering technical problems.
This year's Common App software was built from scratch, as opposed to the previous six years which have iterated on previous code. Among the reported issues:
Problems became evident as soon as the application was released in August, including some confusing wording that was later changed. Students who thought they had finished the application found that it was incomplete because questions had been added after its release. As changes were made, some who had started their applications early found themselves locked out of the system.
A function that allows students to preview applications and print them sometimes just shows blank pages — a problem that may be linked to which Web browsers they use. And … the system often does not properly format essays that are copied and pasted from another program, like Microsoft Word.
In addition, the payment system to finalize an application's submission was either slow or completely unresponsive, leading some to possibly have assumed that they submit something that they had not in actuality.
The software that schools use to receive documents from the Common App and import them into their own internal systems was also not working reliably.
Back in September, Rob Killion, the company's executive director, noted at a conference that, "We fell down on communication in many respects," but promised to have the issues resolved so that colleges with November deadlines could stick to their plans. The company has turned to running tech support on places like their Facebook page to get the word out about possible bugs.
Despite the issues, the number of applications submitted through the program this year is up 20 percent.