Jun 15, 2015

Common App temporarily goes off line to prepare for 2015-16 launch

Harvard University belongs to both the UCA and the Common App

In preparation for the August 1launch of its 2015-16 application, the Common App will be going off line for a little retooling on Thursday, July 23, 2015.

If you haven’t been through this process before, be aware that all current application accounts will be ‘permanently removed’ from the system, and you will not be able to save previously-entered information.

For eager beavers among rising seniors, this means that any information provided in anticipation of the 2015-16 application season will be deleted from the system.  You will need to start from scratch and re-register after August 1.

But before July 23, everyone is welcome to open accounts and see how the software works.  Just be aware that it will disappear somewhere into Never Never Land on July 23.

And by the way, graduating seniors interested in historical records may download and print out copies of submitted applications by clicking the .pdf icon next to colleges listed on their “dashboards.”

Note that the icon will not appear if you did not complete the application process for any of the colleges remaining on your dashboard. You can only save printouts of submitted applications. 

Students still finalizing plans for fall 2015, who wish to apply to Common App member schools with rolling deadlines or deadlines after July 23 should contact individual colleges for instructions on how to submit applications.

Many of these colleges have their own electronic applications posted on their websites, which applicants are free to use.  And those without alternate applications are happy to provide specific information on the availability of a paper version of the Common Application form for use while the Common App is off line.

For the record, most U.S. colleges and universities contract with individual application providers other than the Common Application.  Their timelines for opening accounts, completing forms, and submitting applications will vary. 

And you have to do your research to discover which colleges accept which applications.

For example, the Universal College Application will go live on July 1, with at least 46 member institutions, most of which will be prepared to accept applications immediately.

If you are California dreaming, you are welcome to begin filling out the form used by the entire University of California system on August 1.  The completed application must then be submitted between November 1 and 30.

And if you’re applying to one of the colleges in the Texas system, you will be using the ApplyTexas form, which goes live on August 1.

As long as you’re researching application options, you can begin gathering essay questions or prompts for 2015-16.

The Common App made a couple of minor changes in prompts for its personal statement this year, which have been widely publicized.  There’s no reason not to begin brainstorming one or more of the questions to have ready for August 1.

The UCA is much less directive in its approach to the personal statement and essentially asks applicants to write an essay on a topic of their choice as well as to provide a short (100-150 words) activity description. 

But for many colleges, the personal statement is just the beginning.  You may also be asked to write for each school on your list anywhere from one to as many as seven or more college-specific essays or short answers, the prompts for which are slowly rolling out for 2015-16.

These pesky, but very important, questions can usually be found on individual college websites or by subscribing to aggregating services like the All College Application Essays app (now available on all Apple and Android devices) or College Essay Organizer.

There’s a good deal to keep you busy between now and August 1.  So much, in fact, that you probably won’t even miss the Common App for the eight days or so it’s off line.

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