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Common App Lacks Common Sense

By Amanda Madenberg and Radhika Viswanathan

Applying to colleges is frustrating. Now imagine having your account deleted as soon as you have painstakingly filled out all the required fields. That is what many seniors have been experiencing this year. The Common Application, with its new and improved Version 4, has been having severe technical difficulties.

Initially, Common App updated its website in order to make the application process easier and more efficient. For example, they removed the “topic of your choice” essay question. This change was a result of colleges complaining that students seemed to misunderstand the purpose of the personal essay: to reveal parts of one’s identity that the rest of the application doesn’t show.

However, this new version has had many glitches. From formatting problems to supplements missing, the Common App does not seem to be living up to its mission of “providing reliable services.”

The Common App is not the only organization that has been spotlighted in the media due to technological problems. “Common App’s problems seem similar to problems seen in other places where we become reliant on technology, which often does not work as well as we anticipate,” said science teacher Dr. Carol Hersh.

Many seniors experienced the infamous “error message.” Senior Alex L. said, “If I had a penny for every time Common App said ‘error’ and sent me to a blank page, I’d have enough money to end world poverty.”

Seniors have also had issues with uploading their information. Senior Alon Mor said, “It took me two hours to download the PDF form of my writing supplement, and when it finally showed up, half the paragraphs were not separated. In frustration, I sent it anyway.”

Jill Madenberg, an Independent Educational Counselor, said the biggest problem is not knowing if or when an application is received. With the Common App’s updates, “[The Common Application] is more frustrating and more anxiety-producing than it has been any other year,” said Mrs. Madenberg.

The Common App seemed to have most of its problems closer to the deadline date, because of the increased influx of applicants. “Like other people, I experienced difficulty with Common App right before the Nov. 1 deadline, suggesting that they weren’t set up for the number of applicants that they had,” said Dr. Hersh.

Colleges have been understanding of the problems students have been facing. Over 40 colleges have extended deadlines, just as they did last year due to Hurricane Sandy. They hope that these extensions will assuage students’ worries.

Senior Avir Waxman put it simply: “The people responsible for this inefficient product should be fired.”

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