Feb 15, 2016

The Common App answers questions about ‘Account Rollover’

Last fall, officials from the Common Application announced that applicant accounts created during 2015-16 would roll over into 2016-17. It was assumed that the new ‘Account Rollover’ plan would work similar to the system by which recommender accounts already carried from one year to the next.

But applicant accounts proved to be a little trickier and the plan as originally described produced an enormous number of questions, as anxious high school juniors and even younger students rushed to open Common App accounts and begin what they thought would be the process of applying to college.

Concerned that their desire to provide a tool to introduce their application early to a potentially loyal base of customers was backfiring slightly and producing unnecessary stress among younger students, the Common App issued an advisory designed to clarify not only the process of ‘Account Rollover’ but the intent as well.

According to the Common App, “It [Account Rollover] is intended to be a learning tool, not a means of completing college applications prior to senior year.”

And to underscore this objective, the Common App created a series of presentations and accompanying scripts labeled Common App Ready, which cover elements of the application from account registration through final submission. This material, along with a few very conservative adjustments to the software accommodating Account Rollover, makes it clear that the accounts created by underclassmen this year are to be used to explore and get familiar with the application. Any time saved or “leg up” on the process is ancillary and not to be considered a primary reason for using the tool.  

In other words, the Common App is not encouraging high school freshmen to get started now by opening an account or completing any element of the application. This resource is not to be confused with “The Locker” or efforts on the part of the competing Coalition Application to have students start the process of applying to college as soon as they have access to a computer.

“This resource is designed to help everyone who is a part of the college process—from students and parents to teachers and counselors—explore and understand the Common Application.”

So how will Account Rollover work? After the 2016-17 Common App launches on August 1, 2016, students will be able to sign in using the same email and password created during an earlier registration. They will be asked if they would like to roll over that account and will be asked to confirm:
  • Who they are (current applicant, other student, counselor, parent etc.)
  • Communication opt-in selection (whether to receive mail from colleges or not)
  • Current high school
  • Agreement with Privacy Policy
  • Colleges listed on ‘My Colleges’ (this has some importance for institutional marketing plans)
Once that information is established, the Common App will migrate responses from the 2015-16 account onto the 2016-17 form. Answer to any questions appearing in the six sections of the “Common App” tab—Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities and Writing—will be preserved.

Information that will not carry over includes
  • Responses entered for “college-specific” questions and Writing Supplements
  • The student Release Authorization and FERPA selection (this has implications for Naviance users)
  • Any recommender invitations, assignments and forms
  • PDFs of Common Applications and Writing Supplements submitted the prior year
  • Responses to any questions that were removed from the application
  • Responses to any questions that may have a different format or different response options from the prior year (for 2016-17, this will include at a minimum the “Testing” section given changes in score reporting)
Because First-Year and Transfer accounts are distinct within the Common App system, these will not roll over from one year to the other.  There are complications here that require more time to resolve.

Similar to previous years, Recommender accounts will carry over, but the process is slightly different from the process used by applicants. Upon receiving the first invitation from a student for 2016-17, Recommenders will be able to sign in using the same credentials as 2015-16. Once signed in, they will find their Profile information populated with responses from the previous year, which can then be up-dated as necessary. Old invitations, assignments and forms will not carry over.

For student using Naviance eDocs, completing the Release Authorization and FERPA selection will remain a prerequisite for matching accounts. Since those responses will not carry over from one year to the next, students will need to complete or re-complete those elements of the application before they are able to match their Common App and Naviance accounts.

As currently envisioned, Account Rollover will be an annual process for all users, without consideration as to grade level or user type. So in theory, a student who creates a Common App account as a freshman and goes through the rollover process each year would be able to carry that account through to senior year.

But that doesn’t mean they should.

Additional questions are bound to occur as counselors and students begin experimenting with the process.  These should go to the Common App Solutions Center.

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