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October 28th, 2013
Common Application problems send students scurrying
Lawrence University is telling prospective students that if problems with the Common App persist over the next week, the school will be flexible.
“Students are nervous, their families are nervous, their counselors are nervous, and the colleges waiting to receive their apps are nervous,” Anselment said. “We’re trying to be a calming voice.”
Part of the nervousness comes because more colleges and universities are offering incentives to encourage students to apply by mid-October or Nov. 1, often waiving the application fee or promising an earlier decision, said Curt Cattanach, school and college counselor at Whitefish Bay High School in Wisconsin.
“It certainly helps the colleges out, getting a quicker look at their application pools, but it’s more angst for students to get things in and pressure for getting letters of recommendation done earlier,” Cattanach said.
The Common Application, which first rolled out in 1975 on paper, has been online since 1998. Several versions have been unveiled since then, with few issues.
The latest update this year was intended to address a major increase in uploads because several larger universities have joined the system, and students today are applying to more colleges than previous generations, said Nancy Benedict, Beloit College’s vice president for enrollment.
High schools encourage students to apply early and not wait until the last minute. But this year, that advice has backfired, as many students who began filling out the Common App in August lost their work and had to redo it.
“My sense is the colleges have been great about it,” said Annette Cleary, director of college counseling for Marquette University High School. “In a situation like this, they are not going to hold students hostage. Many of them are pushing back deadlines.”
Like Lawrence University, the only way to get into Beloit College is through the Common Application.
“We are doing everything we can to calm students and, more importantly, their parents, who are very anxious,” Benedict said.
(Next page: Other options for students)