Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More Schools Extend Early Deadlines & The Continuing Mess...

All of us can thank Nancy Griesemer and Tara Anne Dowling for keeping the list of schools extending their early application deadlines up to date and Nancy for her reporting on the ongoing mess with the Common Application. The takeaway seems to be that if you have successfully submitted your applications, do not assume they have been received at your schools. If you have submitted applications, wait several days to contact the schools and find out if they have been received. 

FOR THE UPDATED LIST OF COLLEGES CLICK HERE (and scroll down once you get to the article):

The opening of Nancy Griesemer's latest article:
"As the Common Application calls in a support team from Amazon to help sort out problems with server overloads and explain why the system isn’t working the way it should, member colleges are throwing in the towel and extending early admission deadlines. 
"From the college standpoint, the Common Application poses a complicated series of problemsAt the most basic level, colleges are worried about their continued inability to access and read submitted applications through online enrollment management systems.
"As of this writing, the Common App reports that about half of those colleges using a daily automated process to retrieve files are either testing or waiting to go live with a software fix rolled out just last Thursday. But for those with functioning retrieval systems, there are still reports of applications and documents showing up as empty files or blank pages." READ MORE 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

10 Tips Before You Submit Common App

Take a look at this article just posted on the Student Advisor Blog:

Written by Purvi Mody for StudentAdvisor
There has been quite a bit of grumbling in the media about the new version of the Common Application, the main application system for more than 500 colleges and universities.

Admissions officers, high school counselors, and admissions experts around the country have all weighed in on the Common Application's improvements and the new bugs that it introduced. If you are a high school senior trying to use the Common App, don’t get distracted by the commotion.
Use these 10 Tips that I share with my students, and you too will be able to maneuver the Common Application like a pro:
    1.         Paste your essays into Notepad or TextEdit first and format them properly before pasting them into the actual application.
I recommend a format with line breaks and spaces between paragraphs and no paragraph indentations. I think it looks the cleanest. In the application, those line spaces will not appear, but they should appear when you view the PDF version of your application.

    2.         By far, the worst change to the Common Application is that you cannot Print Preview your Common Application and Writing Supplement together
Since there are no plans to change that functionality, you have to work around it. First, complete the Common Application and the questions specific to one school. Print out the PDF version of your application and scour it thoroughly for mistakes. Once you are happy with it, submit your Common Application to that one school. Do the same for the Common App Writing Supplement next. Skipping the PDF version may cause you to miss some errors. READ MORE 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Word or 3 about the Common App Crisis

This is a news story that just doesn't seem to end - the problems with the once-reliable, apple-pie-and-Mom Common Application. Six weeks ago, it was unthinkable to those of us on the outside that the system would still be so fragile, so bedeviled with every kind of problem. Now that more and more deadlines are being extended - today both Yale and William and Mary added themselves to the list - it seems increasingly unlikely that the problems will be "fixed" anytime soon. Still, the Common App folks assure us that they are being fixed, and that hundreds of thousands of applications are being submitted. 

Where can you get information about the current state of affairs? Where can you ask questions? What should you do in a crunch? I'm afraid there are no good answers, but here's what I know: 

  1. Facebook's Common Application page is Kvetch Central and a pretty good place to go for advice. Today I found this comment, presumably from a teacher, which I copy in its entirety from the FB page. The takeaway is that if you are having a problem, change browsers and/or change computers. Keep changing browsers, and changing. Sometimes relief comes with the second or third or fourth browser you try. There doesn't seem to be one that does the trick. Christiana Quinn from Rhode Island writes:   "Just tried to submit with a student and her essay repeatedly would only half paste in. We switched computers and browsers and got it to work, but I am not sure how students on their own are supposed to handle ALL THESE ISSUES. There is a different one every time I log in with a student. Yesterday cut and paste didn't work at all for one of my students. Different computers, different browsers, but always problems...."
  2. Occasionally people on Facebook ask: "How do I send an email to the Common App? It's not apparent on the website." Answer: On the Common App homepage, click on HELP CENTER, then click on the tab that says ASK A QUESTION and click through all the possible answers. That's the support. Many people report that they only get form responses, some report that they hear nothing, and occasionally people post when they get useful information.
  3. Post your question on the Facebook page and hope someone answers it.
  4. Submit your applications at off-hours. One family I work with could submit the application at 2am. 
  5. This coming weekend is the last week before the Nov. 1 early deadlines. Don't wait until the weekend to submit, and whatever you do, don't wait until the final days of October.
  6. Check in on Twitter's #CommonApp page to get the latest news. This is from earlier this hour:

  1. Is the "testing" section on the common app preview supposed to be blank?? Can someone confirm this
  2. Come on common app, generate!
  3. The common app lost my account😡😡 anyone know how to retrieve it??

Friday, October 18, 2013

12 Colleges Postpone Early Deadline Dates

Please be sure to check with individual schools for confirmations and updates.

Thanks to the Tweeter who originally posted this (looking for but can't find the source, pls forgive!):

University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill  - October 21st

Georgia Tech - October 21

Roanoke College - October 21

Barnard College - ED Friday November 8

Columbia U just pushed their ED back by one week to 11/8.

U Chicago is extending the Early Action Deadline to November 8th, 2013

Northwestern University extends Early Decision deadline to November 8

Duke University - ED moved to 11/8 -

Marist - ED deadline extended to 11/8.

Tufts - ED deadline extended to November 8th

SUNY Geneseo - ED Deadline extended to December 1

Boston University - ED from November 1st to November 15th

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Latest News from Common App Org

After near silence yesterday, when the Common App website seemed to have crashed and panic spread across the country, moments ago, this message was posted on the Common App's Facebook page. This is the message in its entirety:

"We are aware that some users are experiencing problems with the PDF previews. We are investigating the cause and will report as soon as we have information to share. As frustrating as this problem is for those who encounter it, please know that it is not systemic and does not impact all users."

I will post more information as it becomes available. From what I can see, Twitter remains the best place to check the latest news on the Common App and now, the Universal Application, which several dozen schools have signed up with. For more on that, please click here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yale to Applicants: Don't Worry Abt Common App Problems

I write this on the night of the day the Common Application website essentially crashed and tens of thousands of students and their families are in full-blown panic mode because of this. Several schools - UNC and Georgia Tech - have early application deadlines tomorrow, and thousands of other students are trying to get a head start on sending in their applications. 

A client wrote me a panicked email yesterday morning about not being able to submit an application. Tonight, the student sent along this email communication from Yale, the relevant part of which I quote in full: 

"Thank you for beginning your application to Yale. My colleagues and I in New Haven look forward to reviewing your application in our Admissions Committee. Yale's first application deadline is coming up soon. Students who would like to apply for the Single-Choice Early Action Program should plan to have their application materials submitted by November 1st.

"As you may know, the Common Application has recently been experiencing some technical difficulties related to the uploading and processing of documents and application materials. I want to assure you that this is not a cause for concern. The Yale Admissions Office expects to receive and process all application materials submitted online within our usual time frame. If these delays continue or there are related problems in the future, we will need to make exceptions for late documents and are prepared to do so. If a document is missing or improperly processed, a member of our staff will reach out to you or your school counselor directly."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

8 helpful tips 4 dealing with the Common App!

8 Tips for Improving the Common App Experience

Here are 2! Please click on the article for 6 more. 

Avoid traffic jams
Try to work on your Common Application during less congested hours. After-school and Sunday afternoons are the Common Application equivalent of rush hour. The software grinds to a crawl and Print Previews are slow to emerge. More importantly, the software sometimes experiences mini-crashes as it tries to deal with heavy loads of applicants. Whatever you do, avoid the 24 hours immediately preceding major due dates (October 15, November 1, November 15, for early admission applications).

Conform to system requirements
The Common Application is very specific aboutsystem requirements, which are found in a nondescript, easy-to-miss link at the bottom of each page of the application website. Most applicants have found that Firefox and Chrome work well, although serous problems have recently been reported because of changes in Chrome, which appear as a loss of data entered into the application. Your first line of attack for any recurring problems should be to restart your computer. The second would be to review your system and change browsers if necessary. READ MORE

Common App Disaster Official--in NYTimes.

First thing this morning a client wrote to me about his difficulties submitting his Common Application. His mother paid the fee and then he couldn't submit the application. He was confused. Moments later, I happened to be reading the New York Times on-line, and the story is finally out for all to see. 

A week ago, using Chrome seemed to fix many problems. But Chrome recently did an upgrade which has caused even MORE problems. 

For the latest news you might be able to use if you are having difficulties, please consult the Common Application Facebook page. 

Here are excerpts from the Times article and a link so you can read the rest:
"A function that allows students to preview applications and print them sometimes just shows blank pages — a problem that may be linked to which Web browsers they use. And, as Ms. Geiger discovered, the system often does not properly format essays that are copied and pasted from another program, like Microsoft Word.
"When a user pays an application fee with a credit card, the system produces a “signature page,” where the card holder’s name must be typed to confirm the charge. But that page can take a day or more to show up, leading some users to try to pay multiple times. Worse yet, guidance and admissions counselors say that those who do not immediately see the signature page may be unaware of its existence and may never check back — in other words, they may think they have submitted college applications when they have not." READ MORE