Thursday, October 17, 2013

This Too Shall Pass

By: Kathryn Miller

As you probably know by now, the new version of the Common Application is having problems that make it less than user-friendly and can contribute to the already stressful process of submitting college applications.  One of my colleagues, Nancy Griesemer, in northern Virginia, is providing regular updates on the problems and resolutions, so I am highlighting some of those, along with my own observations to mitigate any further frustration:

  1. Try to work on your Common App early in the day, as weekends and evenings are the busiest times and the system can be painfully slow. If you will be submitting your application next week, do it early to avoid a major "traffic jam" right before the November 1 deadline for many schools.
  2. If you are having problems, make sure that you conform to the system requirements (listed on the bottom of each page of the Common App) for your browser and change or restart your computer if the Common App is not responding.
  3. Complete essays in Word before you enter them into the text boxes. Use a standard (not fancy) typeface. You can separate your paragraphs by double-spacing, but do not indent. It may also help to use Notepad or another copy feature if your formatting does not copy correctly.
  4. Under the "Assign Recommenders" tab for each of your colleges, you must complete the FERPA release authorization process, which will allow transcripts and recommendations to be submitted on your behalf through Naviance eDocs. Be sure to click on the link and complete all the steps or your transcripts and recommendations will not be released to your colleges.
  5. In order to Print Preview, you must earn all of your green check marks. It can take upwards of 30 minutes or even time-out while you are requesting the pdf, so be mindful of hints # 1 and 2!
  6. The Common App warns that it may take 24 to 48 hours for your credit card to clear their system, so don't be tempted to pay twice! If you do not receive your notification of receipt of payment and the subsequent "signature" page after 48 hours, contact their Help Center.
  7. You must sign your application by typing your name into the signature space. Be sure that you are seeing this after you submit your payment. Once you have completed the signature and submission, a green check should appear. If you are unsure that your application has been sent, you should email the college's admission office. They are well aware of these problems and will understand.
  8. Many colleges have a separate Writing Supplement, so once you have paid, signed, submitted and received your green check, you can then submit Part 2 of the application, which is the Writing Supplement. Also, be sure to generate a Print Preview, date it, and keep a copy for your files, just in case there is any issue.

It is unfortunate that the Common Application picked this year to make such dramatic changes, but colleges and high schools recognize these issues and many have adjusted deadlines accordingly.  Be sure to look on the websites for each of your colleges, as well as check with your high school counseling office.  

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