Dec 22, 2010

The Common Application Issues Warning for Last-Minute Applicants

In a recent newsletter circulated to counselors across the nation, officials from the Common Application organization warned college-bound seniors to submit their materials well in advance of posted deadlines and to pay particular attention to the order in which they send required elements of individual applications.

Approximately one-third of the Common App’s member colleges and universities require that students submit a payment or supplement—or both—before submitting the application. In these cases, the requirements are clearly displayed in the Application section of a student’s My Colleges page.

Evidently, online credit card payments can take up to two days to go through the system. Because a record of payment will not appear in a student’s account until the fee has been processed, students who wait until the last minute may find they are unable to submit an application because of delays in updating their account. And once a deadline has passed for a particular college, the Common Application will no longer permit applications to be submitted to that college.

According to the newsletter, “The payment condition is especially important for students to understand.” And it is very clearly posted in every instruction related to colleges requiring payment first. So it’s to your advantage to read all instructions pertaining to each application you intend to submit before you start the process.

Locally, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) requires both payment and the required supplement before the application may be submitted. Other area schools including American University, George Washington, Catholic, the University of Mary Washington, and Johns Hopkins want their applications first and payments second.

In addition to potential submission snafus related to forms sequencing, students should also be aware that technical support is not an instantaneous operation. The newsletter warns that waiting until the “eleventh hour,” may not leave enough time for staff to respond to questions submitted electronically “before the clock strikes midnight.”

For those keeping track, the Common App reports that individual applicants registering with the system now number over 345,000—21 percent more than last year. And as of December 15, 1,141,390 applications have already been submitted to Common App member colleges. This represents a 27 percent increase over this time last year.

For more information or further clarification of rules relating to the timely submission of applications, visit the Common Application website.

Photo of UMBC provided by Wikipedia.

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