Aug 8, 2013

5 things you should know about the new Common Application

While the August 1st launch of the new Common Application may not have gone as smoothly as originally
hoped, many of the initial bugs and glitches are well on the way to being fixed by the extraordinarily helpful Common App technical staff.

And it’s been a group process. The ongoing  repair work is thanks in part to input from applicants and counselors—both independent and school-based—who were among the first to jump into action once the software went live.

They peppered the Common App Help Center with questions and suggestions about problems and found that many of their complaints were quickly resolved and adjustments were made on the technical side.

“I asked about changing the order of activities, and received a very fast response,” commented one independent college consultant who was initially concerned about an inability to reconfigure the activities section. “Guess what showed up about 12 hours after [I contacted] the support desk…A little arrow that moves your activity up or down.  Thank goodness!”

The next wave of feedback will no doubt come once more school-based guidance counselors get back from summer break and start working with the new software.

In the meantime, here are five things you might want to know about the new Common Application:

1.  Registration
Before you begin the Common Application, you need to register.  This isn’t complicated, but you will need to come up with a password that is between 8 and 16 characters, has at least one upper and one lower case alphabetic character, and at least one numeric (1,2,3, etc.) and one non-alpha-numeric (*, &, $, etc.) character.  And you need to make sure you provide a working email address—preferably one you check regularly. This is also where you provide permission for the Common App to give your contact information to colleges. If you agree to the information-sharing, expect to receive mail from colleges on your list.  Hint:  This can be a form of “demonstrated interest.”

2.  College Pages and Writing Supplements
According to the Common App, the launch of the new application revealed a “complex technical issue that did not appear in testing.”  The problem prompted the technical staff to temporarily suspend the college pages (submitted with the application) and writing supplements (submitted separately).  Although the issue has been resolved, these elements of the application are slowly being added and not all colleges have complete applications online (as of this writing).  To help applicants sort through this issue, the CA Help Center now includes a list of colleges ready to accept complete applications and writing supplements. Bottom line:  Be patient.

3.  Testing 
A couple of new and unexpected questions have appeared relative to standardized testing.  If you decide to report SAT and/or ACT scores on the Common Application, you will need to tell how many times you took each test. This twist, which appears to run counter to what’s allowed under Score Choice, may make many students decide to not self-report scores—an optional part of the application.  Note that whether you choose to fill out this section of the application or not, you will still need to have an official score report sent from a testing agency—the ACT or the College Board.  Also be aware that the question about “leaving examinations” is meant only for international applicants.  Skip it if it does not pertain.

4.  Recommendations 
The new Common App recommender system will eventually offer counselors, teachers and others a tool for tracking students and submitting school forms online. Students are now able to invite recommenders and those recommenders will be able to log in, view students, and complete a profile. Completion and submission of individual school forms, however, will be temporarily delayed and will roll out on August 19—or thereabouts.  Bottom line:  This really isn’t your problem and will sort itself out soon.

5.  Print Preview
The new Common Application forces applicants to complete an application and begin the submission process before being offered the opportunity to Print Preview their work.  Don’t let this hang you up.  And don’t be confused by what appears in text boxes or on the “working version” of your application.  Simply work through an application, paste in your personal statement and additional information (if appropriate), answer college-specific questions, and invite recommenders. Then begin the submission process.  A .pdf will appear which you can save and/or print out.  Continue to the next step and accept the offer to return to your dashboard.   You may then edit your application.  Note that once an application has actually been submitted you will have two opportunities to change your essay—only up to three separate versions are allowed by the new Common Application.

The Common App is using Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the Help Center and a growing Knowledgebase to answer questions and keep applicants, their families and advisors up-to-date on changes, revisions, and improvements to the application.  Feel free to direct your questions to the Help Center, as it helps inform the technical staff of issues the average user encounters while completing the application.

And you may find your particular problem is easily resolved.

No comments:

Post a Comment