Common App glitches cause student woes

Glitches to the Common Application system, a college application service that allows students to submit to dozens of schools at a time, are gumming up the application process and being monitored by admissions officials nationwide.

The Common App is used by 500 universities, both public and private, throughout the country. The current set of issues stems from a system upgrade in Common App launched in August.

The system requires users to create a username and password, but applicants attempting to submit to universities have found themselves locked out or receiving an error message when attempting to log in.

Problems with the credit card payment system have also been reported to universities nationwide and addressed by Common App in a press release, in which it noted that payments have occasionally taken several days to process.

Errors with Common App’s recommendation system have been reported as well. Slow load times have caused recommenders to spend up to an hour attempting to upload recommendations, or at times unable to upload them at all.

One teacher voiced her frustration on the Common App’s Facebook page, saying : “This is ridiculous! I spend so much time writing teacher recommendations for over 30 students. I should not have to spend an additional 40 minutes trying to upload a document … Get your act together.”

About 60 percent of Oswego State applicants used Common App last year, according to Dan Griffin, the interim director of admissions. Griffin said the admissions office is monitoring the situation.

“While we have not been impacted yet, we are very concerned with the issues Common App has been having,” Griffin said via email. “Between our office and the team in CTS, we have been working everyday for about a month now toward getting students’ applications submitted via Common App into our student information system (Banner).”

While Griffin noted that Oswego State has not been as impacted because application deadlines haven’t arrived yet, other schools have not been as fortunate.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Georgia Tech have both extended early decision deadlines after receiving several complaints from applicants.

More schools could potentially face delays, as the Common App acknowledged in a press release the looming concern of approaching deadlines.

“As we approach the busy deadline season, we are fully committed to ensuring the complete and timely review of applications for all Common Application members, particularly those with November 1 deadlines,” the release said.

The manner in which the application system has addressed the problems and concerns of schools and applicants, however, has been called into question, as many of the issues have dated back to months earlier.

Common App relies on a ticket-filing system and provides no way to reach representatives by phone, according to a report by Inside Higher Ed. This policy has led applicants and their parents to leave frustrated messages on the system’s Facebook page about both wait times for response and the lack of direct person-to-person interaction.

Common App keeps a progress updates page where errors are reported with the status of their repair. As of Thursday, the page had 16 known issues with repairs marked as “in-progress.”

Oswego State’s early decision applicatin is due Nov. 29, and Griffin said admissions will closely watch issues with the Common App until then.

“If November rolls around and things haven’t improved much, we may need to act,” Griffin said. Oswego State also accepts applications through the SUNY Application system, which Griffin said the school could use as a backup plan.

“… for us as a SUNY college, that could mean getting word out to students and families to go the SUNY App route—luckily, we are having no issues processing applications submitted via the SUNY site,” Griffin said. “Frankly that gives us a big advantage over colleges and universities that are exclusive to Common App.”Griffin said, however, that the school is unlikely to be forced to go this route.

“I don’t expect to have to go to such an extreme measure,” Griffin said.
“but I sleep better at night knowing it’s an option.”