The ‘Common College Application’ has issues

25 Sep

Moi wrote about the “Common Application” in Many U.S. colleges use the ‘Common Application’: Many students are preparing to apply to college and they will be using the “Common Application” which is used by over 450 universities including some international schools. According to the “Common Application” site:

The Common Application is a not-for-profit organization that serves students and member institutions by providing an admission application – online and in print – that students may submit to any of our 456 members.
The Common App Online Demo for Students (Flash Movi
Once completed online or in print, copies of the Application for Undergraduate Admission can be sent to any number of participating colleges. The same is true of the School Report, Optional Report, Midyear Report, Final Report and Teacher Evaluation forms. This allows you to spend less time on the busywork of applying for admission, and more time on what’s really important: college research, visits, essay writing, and senior year coursework.
Absolutely! Millions of Common Applications are printed and accepted by our members each year. In addition, last year almost 2.5 million applications were submitted via the Common App Online.
YES! Our college and university members have worked together over the past 35 years to develop the application. All members fully support its use, and all give equal consideration to the Common Application and the college’s own form. Many of our members use the Common Application as their only undergraduate admission application.
Membership is limited to colleges and universities that evaluate students using a holistic selection process. A holistic process includes subjective as well as objective criteria, including at least one recommendation form, at least one untimed essay, and broader campus diversity considerations. The vast majority of colleges and universities in the US use only objective criteria – grades and test scores – and therefore are not eligible to join. If a college or university is not listed on this website, they are not members of the consortium. Sending the Common Application to non-members is prohibited.
As part of the application process, schools require a variety of information to be provided by teachers and guidance counselors who have interacted with you in the high school environment. Until last year, those forms were only available as PDF files that could be printed, copied, and mailed to the appropriate colleges. Now each teacher and counselor will have the option to complete the forms online via the Common App Online School Forms system if they desire. There is no cost to you or high schools, and using the online system is completely optional for your teachers and counselor.
When you create an account on the Common App Online, you must first indicate what high school you attend. Once this information has been saved, you can access a ‘School Forms’ section of the Common App where teachers and counselors can be identified. By adding a teacher or counselor to the list of school officials, an email is triggered to the teacher or counselor with information about how to log into the Online School Forms system or how to opt for the “offline” or paper process. You are then able to track the progress of your various teachers and counselors via a screen within the Common App Online.
The Common App Online School Forms System Demo (Flash Movie)

There’s a Common Application for Transfer Admission as well as First-Year Admission. The Transfer Application is available primarily for online submission; however, the form can be downloaded in PDF format from ourDownload Forms page.

In addition to U.S. colleges, colleges in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland use the “Common Application.” For a good synopsis of the pros and cons of using the application, go to Should I Use The Common Application?

Jacques Steinberg reported about problems with the “Common Application” in 2010.

Eric Hoover reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Common Application’s Leaders Get an Earful:

For weeks, technical difficulties have prevented many institutions from processing the applications they have received through the Common Application. Further delays, some deans said, would keep their staffs from getting decisions back to applicants on time.
Some background: An overhauled Common Application, years in the making, went live on August 1. The new platform, built to handle an ever-increasing volume of applications from around the world, included various enhancements, many of which college counselors and admissions officers liked. Within the first 20 minutes, 1,000 students in a dozen countries had registered, and within six weeks, nearly 600,000 students had created profiles.
While applicants were typing away, however, an array of problems emerged. In short, some components of the new Common Application didn’t get up and running all at once. As of late August, some institutions, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, still did not have live supplements, which include additional questions and essay prompts. Without completing those supplements, an applicant can’t submit an application to a given college.
At Thursday’s session, admissions officers described another problem: The inability to import all the data they receive via the Common Application into their own information systems, so they can start reviewing applications. ”They’re coming in,” said one dean, “but we can’t get to them.” Another dean said his technology staff had offered a diagnosis: “It was a botched implementation.”
My understanding of the complex issue: The construction of the massive new platform got behind schedule, colleges had little or no time to test it before applications started rolling in, and larger-than-anticipated problems arose when colleges tried to get the Common Application’s system to “talk” to their own student-information templates. Solutions to those problems are still being hammered out….
Clark Brigger, senior associate director for undergraduate admissions at Michigan, used a vehicular metaphor. The new Common Application “purported to have a great engine, it looked good on the outside,” he said. “It rolled off the assembly line without the wheels, and didn’t even have the axles to put the wheels on.”
If nothing else, this saga reveals just how much colleges have come to depend on those wheels….

Nancy Greisemer posts College Explorations great information about the “Common Application.”

In 5 things you should know about the new Common Application, Greisemer advises:

In the meantime, here are five things you might want to know about the new Common Application:

1. Registration
Before you begin the Common Application, you need to register. This isn’t complicated, but you will need to come up with a password that is between 8 and 16 characters, has at least one upper and one lower case alphabetic character, and at least one numeric (1,2,3, etc.) and one non-alpha-numeric (*, &, $, etc.) character. And you need to make sure you provide a working email address—preferably one you check regularly. This is also where you provide permission for the Common App to give your contact information to colleges. If you agree to the information-sharing, expect to receive mail from colleges on your list. Hint: This can be a form of “demonstrated interest.”

2. College Pages and Writing Supplements
According to the Common App, the launch of the new application revealed a “complex technical issue that did not appear in testing.” The problem prompted the technical staff to temporarily suspend the college pages (submitted with the application) and writing supplements (submitted separately). Although the issue has been resolved, these elements of the application are slowly being added and not all colleges have complete applications online (as of this writing). To help applicants sort through this issue, the CA Help Center now includes a list of colleges ready to accept complete applications and writing supplements. Bottom line: Be patient.

3. Testing
A couple of new and unexpected questions have appeared relative to standardized testing. If you decide to report SAT and/or ACT scores on the Common Application, you will need to tell how many times you took each test. This twist, which appears to run counter to what’s allowed under Score Choice, may make many students decide to not self-report scores—an optional part of the application. Note that whether you choose to fill out this section of the application or not, you will still need to have an official score report sent from a testing agency—the ACT or the College Board. Also be aware that the question about “leaving examinations” is meant only for international applicants. Skip it if it does not pertain.

4. Recommendations
The new Common App recommender system will eventually offer counselors, teachers and others a tool for tracking students and submitting school forms online. Students are now able to invite recommenders and those recommenders will be able to log in, view students, and complete a profile. Completion and submission of individual school forms, however, will be temporarily delayed and will roll out on August 19—or thereabouts. Bottom line: This really isn’t your problem and will sort itself out soon.

5. Print Preview
The new Common Application forces applicants to complete an application and begin the submission process before being offered the opportunity to Print Preview their work. Don’t let this hang you up. And don’t be confused by what appears in text boxes or on the “working version” of your application. Simply work through an application, paste in your personal statement and additional information (if appropriate), answer college-specific questions, and invite recommenders. Then begin the submission process. A .pdf will appear which you can save and/or print out. Continue to the next step and accept the offer to return to your dashboard. You may then edit your application. Note that once an application has actually been submitted you will have two opportunities to change your essay—only up to three separate versions are allowed by the new Common Application.

The Common App is using Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the Help Center and a growing Knowledgebase to answer questions and keep applicants, their families and advisors up-to-date on changes, revisions, and improvements to the application. Feel free to direct your questions to the Help Center, as it helps inform the technical staff of issues the average user encounters while completing the application.
And you may find your particular problem is easily resolved.

You must check your work before submitting your application and if you have questions, contact the Help Center.


College Preparation Checklist Brochure

Click to access college-prep-checklist.pdf

Federal Student Aid At A Glance

Click to access Federal%20Aid%20at%20a%20Glance.pdf


The digital divide affects the college application process

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