Nov 20, 2013

Applicants beware: Don’t forget to SIGN your application

As colleges continue to deal with fallout from the redesign of the Common Application, yet another problem is beginning to emerge.

Not everyone who thinks they submitted an application actually did.

And why would that be?  

Because a payment glitch plaguing the system as recently as a couple of weeks ago did not automatically prompt students to go to the signature page and submit their applications.

Although the Common App covered its bases by warning students that credit cards could take up to 48 hours to process (and in some cases up to a week), students not sensitive to the series of prompts signaling application completion were unaware that their applications remained unsigned and unsent.

These students and their families thought the process was complete because they received a “receipt” of payment.

It was all because the Common App was more concerned about ensuring payment than ensuring delivery of applications.  

Acting on a different set of priorities, the Universal College Application (UCA) sends the application as soon as the student hits submit.  There’s no waiting for a credit card to clear. They figure the cost of sending is minimal and both the college and the UCA will eventually receive payment.

But now as colleges sort through paperwork and begin the processes of reading or assigning interviews, it appears that some applicants and colleges may not be aware of a potential mistake in submission.

“For the last week, we've been emailing people who didn't submit all parts of their Common App to give them a chance (or several last chances) to hit submit on what was missing,” commented Jeanine Lalonde on her admissions blog for the University of Virginia.  “Would you believe that 23 people paid a fee and told Common App they were applying during the Early Action period, but never submitted the actual application?”

And for some unlucky applicants waiting for interview assignments or decisions in the early application process, there may be disappointment.

One local alumni representative discovered the mistake when her neighbor’s name didn’t appear on a list of early admission students waiting for assignment to an interviewer.  The student and her parents soon discovered that the error extended to other colleges including the University of Virginia.

“You need a cast iron stomach to survive this application cycle!” commented the alum.

The moral of the story is that students need to make sure their applications are both SIGNED and submitted.  

And if you haven’t received a confirmation that your application and supporting documents have been received, don’t be shy about doing a little investigation.

First, go back to the Common Application website.  Both your Dashboard and your My Colleges page should clearly indicate that all parts of your application have been submitted.  Note that the Writing Supplement is not a “hop on.”  It requires a separate submission.  Do NOT rely on a payment receipt as proof that the application and Writing Supplement have been submitted.

If it appears that the application has not been submitted, restart the submission process and make sure you reach the signature page and then submit.  Follow-up by submitting any required Writing Supplement.

If all that has been done and you still have no acknowledgement from the college that your materials have been received, feel free to contact the admissions offices involved.  They understand that this has been a difficult year and will do everything possible to work with you.

The worst possible scenario is not being proactive and discovering that your application was either never received or somehow got lost in transmission. 

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