Why the Common App Still Needs Improvement

Adam Jones ’14

The Common App website provides students with an application that is almost universal in its range. Most schools accept it as their regular application, saving students time. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the system needs expansive reform. This past October, the site crashed weekly, resulting in a loss of application information for some students, as well as constant delays for submitting their applications. The result of this was the extension of Early Action and Early Decision deadlines, as well as countless headaches and frustrated sighs from high school students across the country.

Aside from the crash errors, the Common App makes it difficult for some students to accurately display who they are. With limited space to describe activities, and only a small section to type out “additional information”, students can sometimes feel cheated out of their application.

Students are required to submit a Common App essay that all colleges will see when a student applies. Here is where another problem lies. Most students chose to write their essays in a separate program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Drive. Copying and importing that essay into the dialogue box for the Common App leads to countless formatting errors. The word count, which is a strict parameter on the website, fluctuates greatly based on spaces and indents. Most students do not even realize these errors until they have previewed their entire application, leading to last minute panic and anxiety.

While the Common Application is a very useful service, it is in need of heavy modifications. The concept is brilliant and saves students time, but the many issues it has leads to only more stress in the college application process. While it has the potential to be great, only time will tell if the Common App can truly make a difference in the lives of higher learners.

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