Glitches in the Common Application leave students frustrated

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IMAGE: More computers in AMUThe Common Application, which was created as a common forum for prospective college students to apply to dozens of schools at once, was given an upgrade of software and applications this summer to streamline the process of applying for colleges even more. Instead, the digital makeover is causing more headaches than positives with glitches said to be causing students and parents to panic across the country.

Marquette and more than 500 academic institutions around the country use the Common Application.

“We have a lot of panicked students, parents and counselors right now,” said Robert Blust, dean of admissions and enrollment planning.

“We are working on the issues right now,” Blust said. “We are advising people to simply take a deep breath and trying to calm some nerves. We are working on issues on a case-by-case basis because not every one has the same issue, but at the same time we are trying to fix the system as a whole.”

Some of the other issues students are experiencing include website crashes, difficulties logging in, multiple fee charges for a single application, difficulty formatting essays and disappearing information entered on the application.

“The first big issue is that the applications weren’t able to lead into the system,” Blust said. “We get the application through an upload. So that was the first major issue. As time has gone on, there have been students who have gotten into the system or getting kicked out,” he said.

The Marquette application deadline isn’t until Dec. 1 and Blust said he hopes the majority of the issues will be sorted out by then.

“Our December 1 deadline has given us a little more time,” he said. “The main issue is that a lot of these schools have early decision deadlines like November 15 and because we are all in the system, we get affected. We are hopeful that we will be in good shape before our big surge the two weeks before deadline.”

In addition to having a late deadline, Marquette also has two ways for prospective students to submit an application – the Common Application and the Marquette application.

Negassi Tesfamichael, a senior at Marquette High School started working on his Common Application last month, but said he will probably submit the Marquette application instead.

“There have been a ton of glitches with this new version of the Common App,” Tesfamichael said. “Personally, I had a lot of trouble making sure everything was saved. When I logged back into my account I would sometimes have trouble seeing all the progress I had previously made.”

“When I do eventually submit my Common App for some of the early deadlines I have to meet, I’ll be worried beyond belief about whether or not everything went though,” he continued.

Catherine Frehe, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, was surprised when she heard about the issues students are having with the Common App. Frehe used the Common App last year to apply to seven schools at the same time and never had any issues.

“I feel really bad for the students who are applying now,” Frehe said. “When I used it it was simple and straightforward. It told me what was completed and what wasn’t. I thought the new updates were supposed to make it even easier, but obviously it didn’t.”

As applications continue to pour into Marquette, Blust said he hopes the issues with the Common App will get resolved.

“The future is just a little uncertain; we don’t know what is going to happen,” he said. “Even though we have had a lot of applications, there are going to be even more in the next six weeks so we are doing everything to make sure it all is working properly. The Common Application is serving students very well so we are keeping them foremost in our mind.”

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