Common Application, uncommon problems

Mia Zanzucchi

So far this year, senior English teacher Ms. Brinkerhoff has had 12 students ask for teacher recommendations through the Common App. When she first tried submitting recommendations, she was asked whether or not her students were ranked. No matter which option she chose, the page wouldn’t go through.

“I don’t mind doing them,” Ms. Brinkerhoff said. “I just can’t get in.”

Ms. Brinkerhoff is now in the process of submitting recommendations for those 12 students by email and snail mail.

She isn’t alone. For several West Jessamine seniors and teachers and all three counselors, applying to college and filling out recommendations means battling the Common Application’s technical glitches.

According to statements released on the Common Application Facebook page, technical glitches across the world have included final submission errors, incorrect formatting when pasting essays, slow performance across the board, login issues for both applicants and recommenders, Help Center shutdowns, not being able to save application information, general issues through the Google Chrome web browser and delayed application fee payments.

Senior Abbey Bowe applied early to several schools, but when she tried to submit her applications, one of the schools didn’t receive any of her information even though the Common Application said it had been submitted. Her recommending teachers had to send letters by post and her counselor tried to submit information for her application at least eight times.

Even though the number of applicants, counselors and teachers filling out the Common App has steadily increased every year since the 2008-2009 school year, Common App launched a new format, called the “4th generation online system,” on Aug. 1 of this year.

Director of Guidance Ms. Heady said that several of her students “disappeared” from the Common App website when the 4th generation was released. Sections were filled out and then wiped, and after the information was submitted, nothing went through.

After contacting Common App, the guidance department was advised to have students resubmit their counselor and to update programs like Java, Adobe, Flash and their Internet browsers.

“It seemed to take forever,” Ms. Heady said. “Of course I wanted an easy, quick fix, and it wasn’t as quick as I wanted it to be.”

The Common App’s technical issues caused some of their 517 member schools with Early Decision (binding) and Early Action (non-binding) to postpone deadlines.

“We fussed, but kept updating,” Ms. Heady said. “It’s all to make it easier for students. If students are still experiencing problems with the Common App, they should come see their counselor.”

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