Online Common Application technology faces glitches

Sarah Novicoff

Technological problems with the new Common Application, released online Aug. 1, are beginning to affect students and deans as early application deadlines approach.

“We are pretty frustrated with its functionality,” Dean Beth Slattery said. “We are quite concerned about these problems, especially the technological ones. We are, however, confident that, with our connections to colleges, we could fix all problems that arose and are cautiously optimistic that no serious problems will be produced.”

Out of 139 seniors polled on a Chronicle survey, 64 percent indicated that they have experienced problems with the Common Application. Such problems include the deletion of descriptions in the Activities section, missing green check marks that indicate the completion of a section and print preview errors. Additionally, students are unable to change the status of their Family Education and Privacy Act rights, the right for a student to read teacher recommendations, and must create a new account if they fail to waive such rights as deans advise.

“There’s a steep learning curve because we are still figuring it all out,” Dean Sharon Cuseo said. “Hopefully that process will be fine, but I think that, ultimately, decisions won’t be different. It will just add a layer of stress and inconvenience, hopefully not to the applicants because the process is stressful enough. I think that there will be a more understanding and a more patience on the part of the college on completing applications so that’s nice.”

The New York Times reported Sunday that colleges, such as Cornell University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, have encountered problems processing applications and are worried about  functionality.

Other such problems include the creation of accounts and inaccurate word counts.

“I could not sign in to the Common App because the site kept telling me that I was too young to make an account,” Bakari Bolden ’14 said. “I had to use my dean’s computer in order to create my account.”

Dean Pete Silberman recommends that students experiencing problems check the Common Application “Knowledgebase” to see if solutions are known. The Common Application has received and resolved more than 10 problems and is working on 14 more, such as issues with recommendation forms. The list of solutions is available at