Common App Crashes, Frustrates

Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

Seniors applying to colleges using the Common Application (Common App) have experienced difficulties due to technical problems.

Common App is a popular undergraduate application used by over 400 universities and colleges. According to college counselor Gwenly Carrel, a new Common App was rolled out for 2014, which is part of the reason for the issues. “They did not test out their product,” said Carrel.

Issues with the application include formatting difficulties, garbled personal statements, and a generally confusing website. The most pressing issue, according to Carrel, is that colleges are unable to view students’ applications even after they’re uploaded. “Students were uploading their apps and colleges weren’t able to read them,” she said.

Many colleges have moved back their deadlines due to these difficulties, according to Carrel. Several colleges have switched to the Universal College Application, including Tufts College and Princeton University.

According to Carrel, the difficulties make the college application process far more difficult than it needs to be. “It’s already a stressful process, and then having technical errors and issues makes it even more stressful,” she said.

Vikram Badir was forced to deal with these issues several times, as he was submitting to multiple schools early action with an art supplement. “I couldn’t upload PDFs, and I kept getting an error message when I put in my credit card number,” he said.

Badir also felt that it was frustrating because of the uncertainty. “You just didn’t know whether it submitted or not,” he said. “It increased my stress levels because even though I finished way before the deadline, it still wasn’t working.”

Senior Cat Kolm also was frustrated by the technical errors. “A lot of the schools I really want to get into require Common App, so it’s really stressful when I can’t get my application in,” she said.

On October 29, Common App’s twitter (@commonapp) posted, “we are investigating problems users reported regarding PDFs and submissions. Will post as soon as we have more info to share.” Since then, they have posted daily updates about more errors and improvements they are making to the site, but many issues have not been resolved as of November 8.

According to Carrel, students should not fret too much. Colleges want as many students as possible to submit their applications, which is why they extended their deadlines. She also said students have been asked to contact schools directly if they have any issues.

“My advice to students is to just relax because the colleges are also having a difficult time, and they want to get your information,” she said.