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  • Writer's pictureHollis Bischoff

Common App – Still Under Construction! Watch out for Falling Bits

It is coming up on time for submitting your first Common App school. Unfortunately, the Common App organization over promised and under delivered on CA4 application functionality. Because of the new system kinks and problems, it is strongly recommended you submit a minimum 1-week before the deadline. However, in spite of the system errors, it is still your responsibility to submit a complete application within the deadlines. Here are workarounds or ways to handle some of the most critical system errors and quirks.

  1. Double-check the entire application before submitting. Because the Common App organization is continuing to apply system changes, sections which were previously marked completed, with a green check, may now show as not completed. In addition, some new fields have been added. This is true even if you have already submitted 1 application; new data applies to any new applications you submit.

  2. Your common app main essay may appear to lose formatting when pasted into the space in the app. Here is a kludgy work around which appears to allow formatting to be preserved (follow these directions exactly). Paste the essay (no indents, single spaced, two hard returns between paragraphs) into a new Word document.  Copy and paste this new document into the essay box in the C.A.  Then DO not touch it – no corrections on formatting or form. Leave it just as it is, it should appear fine in the print preview. If not, just put a note in the “additional information” about the Common App not formatting correctly. I am certain you will not be the only student suffering from this issue!

  3. Review the Print Preview very carefully. Some of the bugs in the Common App include not correctly storing information that has been entered. The print preview is a required step before submitting. Due to performance issues it can take 15 minutes to generate the print preview. Please allow enough time to wait and review carefully.

  4. Payment and submission – Once a school is completed and ready to submit, the first step in submissions is to remit payment.  You will be moved to a 3rd party for processing. Once you have paid, you may be notified it will take 24-48 hours to process payment BEFORE you can actually submit the application. DO NOT submit payment twice. Check your email, at least twice a day, for payment acknowledgement. Once payment is acknowledged, you must return to the Common App, electronically sign your application and submit. THEN you must also submit the writing supplement (if required, by the school). YOUR APPLICATION IS NOT FORMALLY SUBMITTED UNTIL ALL OF THESE STEPS ARE COMPLETED. Some schools are not showing any flexibility on deadlines. Therefore, it is imperative you leave at least 72 hours between the your initial payment and the school deadline.

  5. Password reset still may not work correctly. Please make sure you record your email id and password in a safe, easily accessible place. You may be not able to access your account if you have forgotten your id or password. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR EMAIL ID OR START ANOTHER ACCOUNT – IF YOU DO, YOUR ACCOUNT WILL NOT SYNC WITH NAVIANCE AND NO SCHOOL DOCUMENTS WILL BE SUBMITTED. THIS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

Most importantly, do not panic. We are all going through this together and in a few short months this will all be behind you as you decide where to embark on your next adventure.

UPDATE 10/14: The Common App is experiencing response time and timeout issues as recommenders and school counselors are finally able to access their part of the system. I anticipate this problem to become more of an issue as application deadlines (11/1, 11/15, etc) get close. Please allow a few hours to complete and submit your application in order to compensate for application issues.

Some colleges are responding by officially extending their early deadlines: Georgia Tech and UNC have officially moved their 10/15 EA deadlines to 10/21.

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