Glitches with Online College Application Program Lead to Problems for Prospective Students

Glitches within a major online college application program have frustrated prospective students and college admission counselors across the country. The Common Application, which is accepted by more than 500 colleges and universities, handles millions of applications annually and was retooled this year to try and make the website run more efficiently. However when the 4th online version of the Common Application went live on Aug. 1, it caused angst for many college-bound students.

Various software troubles and other technical difficulties have left students with frozen screens, led them to pay multiple fees for a single application, or even shut out of their accounts completely. This has prompted several schools, including Marist College, to push back their fall application deadlines. Marist pushed back its deadline for Early Decision applications to Nov. 8.

“This has created a very difficult situation for students and admissions staff,” said Niasia Kemp, an Assistant Director of Admission at Marist College. “The Common App is where most of our applications come from and with these problems we can’t process the applications and we have already received several applications.” Students can also apply to Marist College online through their website or print the application off the Marist website and fill it out and mail it in.

“In a way the Common App has been a victim of its own success,” said Luis Santiago, the Director of Admission at Marist College. “They look to simplify the application process and then this gets so popular they have to keep changing and it opens them up to problems.” All of the Admission Counselors at Marist have been working around the clock to make sure they can process all the applications on time.

Not all schools have their own applications or even accept paper applications like Marist does. Some only accept the Common Application; this puts these schools in a very poor position if these glitches are not fixed soon.

“It is unfortunate that the Common App eliminated the paper option because it leaves them and the entire process at risk of a major collapse,” remarked Santiago.

“I have lost count of the amount of visits from students, and e-mails and phone calls from parents panicking about this,” said Cristin Silk, a College Counselor at Dobbs Ferry High School. “I have advised them to explore other options to apply such as applying through the school’s website or requesting a paper application.” Some students have even been willing to share their experiences.

Brian Sawyer, a Senior at Dobbs Ferry High School in Dobbs Ferry, NY said “I tried to log in about 10 times so I could apply to UNC-Chapel Hill. The website kept saying they did not recognize my username and password. I was freaking out.”

“We were prompted to pay about three times,” said Steve Gamin, whose daughter Emily is a Senior at FDR High School in Hyde Park, NY. “It turned out I was charged each time.”

While there are currently no estimates about how many students have had trouble, it is clear that this is a problem that needs fixing before that Nov. 8 deadline.

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