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Common App Mishaps: What to Know

The release of the new Common Application came with a plethora of technical problems that forced many schools to push back their Early Decision and Early Action deadlines.

Students are struggling with persistent Common Application issues that have made it difficult to complete and submit applications, adding more pressure to an already stressful process. While the Common Application is working to resolve these issues, many are still prevalent and may not be resolved by the regular admission deadlines.

In addition to extending early application deadlines, some schools, including Princeton University, have even turned to the Universal College Application, allowing students to apply through there as an alternative.

The best way to avoid issues at zero-hour is to get your applications and essays completed early in order to have time to deal with any technical issues that you may encounter when it comes time to submit.

If you encounter problems be sure to submit a help ticket with the Common Application and contact the admissions office at the school to which you are applying. Let them know your situation as many schools are handling delayed applications on case-by-case basis, and they may be able to give you some flexibility on the deadline.

Here are some common problems students have been experiencing with the Common Application and how we have advised students to handle them.

  • Formatting Issues: Many students, after copying and pasting their essays from a Word document into the Common App, have lost the formatting of their essay, turning it into one big block of text. Common App has advised students to write their essays in Text Edit or Notepad to avoid this issue, however these tools do not have a word count feature. Our counselors have found that Google Docs works just as well for copying and pasting without losing formatting, and it does have a word count tool.
  • Print Preview: If you have issues with the print preview, try logging into the Common App through a different web browser. Our counselors have found that Safari tends to work better when trying to generate a print preview. If that is not sufficient, be sure to submit a help ticket immediately.
  • Issues Logging In: Some students have experienced other technical issues like being unable to log in, or logging in and getting an error message. If this happens, immediately submit a ticket with the Common App Help Desk.
  • Missing “Completed” Green Checks: The Green Check function, which displays after a section has been completed, sometimes does not appear even after a student has filled out all the fields in one section. If this is a problem, try clearing a few questions, save the changes, then go back and fill them in again.

The Common Application also has an ongoing list on their site with updates on current problems and their status and issues that have been fixed.

Remember, the most important thing that you can do to ease some of the frustration with the Common Application is to stay calm and be patient. It may take a while, but you will get your application submitted!

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