Common App lets students down

Colleges should have a backup plan in place for when the Common App fails.

Many students in the process of applying to college for the first time are experiencing tremendous difficulty as the Common Application, an online application form accepted by more than 500 colleges and universities, has suffered major technical issues over the last few weeks.

The Common App, as it’s often called, allows students to create an online profile to apply to multiple schools simultaneously. It’s meant to streamline the application process, with deadlines and other information for each school available through the online form.

This year’s updated version was replete with technical problems, The New York Times reported earlier this month. Students were locked out of the system, paid application fees multiple times and couldn’t preview their application before submitting it.

Developers are actively working to fix the problems, and the Associated Press reported some payment and browser compatibility issues had been fixed less than a week later.

Though the University of Minnesota does not use the Common Application, several private Minnesota schools do, including Hamline University, Macalester College, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, St. Catherine’s University, Carleton College and St. Olaf College.

The application process is anxiety-ridden for many high school students without the additional stress of wondering if their applications have been received. While the Common App may make applying to multiple colleges more convenient, schools should develop a contingency plan — a school-specific version of the Common App form and online application status portals (similar to the application the U of M uses). It could be made available to students via the school’s website in case crippling technical issues like these arise again in the future.