Common Application Update: Relax... Help is on the way!

At NACAC's 69th National Conference in Toronto last week, representatives for the Common Application -- in two sessions to meet overflow demand -- answered many of the concerns that have arisen since the new platform debuted in August. Most of the information shared will soon be available on the Help Center where, as of October 1, there will be staffing 24/7.  The biggest issue, according to counselor Jan Williams who was our eyes and ears there, seemed to be that students have to click on "submit" before they can see "print preview" -- causing "all kinds of confusion and angst."  College Admission staff said they intend to address the problem.  Scott Anderson of the Common Application has told us that as more and more people interact with the application, they will be making adjustments and refining the interface.

For what it's worth, our experience -- as users in creating a real-time supplement on The Application Form (you can download it free here) that includes the August changes to the Common Application and in mentoring a group of first-generation students who were required to file their applications by September 15th -- has been that the interface is intuitive, less repetitive than earlier incarnations, and much better organized, making it easier for students to keep track of their progress.


"Help is on the way?" Isn't that what they told General Custer? An Activities section that checks itself off as "completed" when not as single activity has been posted, is not "intuititve." College-specific supps that ask the same basic questions over and over again (rather than, as in the past, to lump such queries into the common portion of the Common App). That's not repetitive. And not being able print preview BEFORE you submit the Application? Well, that's just plain dumb!

The folks at Common App haven't built a better mouse trap. They're simply hoping that this generation of mice is blind to its many flaws and foibles and, unsuspectingly, walks right in.

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