Staying Calm Amidst CommonApp Glitches

Staying Calm Amidst CommonApp Glitches

The new CommonApp has been absurdly glitchy. Drop down lists aren’t working. Colleges aren’t receiving pieces of your application. Counselors aren’t confirming that you need a fee waiver. You get locked out of your essay. These are just a few of issues that have been plaguing college applicants across the country.

Many students have come to me in a panic. Something isn’t working and now they’re going to get rejected from every college that uses the CommonApp. These schools will think they’re lazy or uninterested in a particular school. Most recently, a student came to me to tell me that he was locked out his essay — the site said he had already edited it three times but he hadn’t. This wasn’t his best work and there were errors in the essay. Now he’d certainly never get into any reach schools, and probably not even his safeties anymore, or so he said.

But this is absolutely not true.

I’ve had the privilege of being able serve as a student member of the Swarthmore Admissions Committee this year. We’ve spent a lot of time this semester discussing the current state of the CommonApp. Admissions officers, at least at Swarthmore, have devoted incredible amounts of time to working through this. They’re as afraid of losing applicants as you are of rejection.

If you encounter a glitch on your application, email the school. Especially if it’s a small school, admissions officers will likely be extremely forgiving. Send them a PDF of the essay that wasn’t working, take a screenshot of your transcript/SAT scores/etc. Come up with a creative solution to the problem and schools will most likely be grateful that you’re taking that step.

Another tip, if you need a fee waiver but can’t seem to secure guidance counselor approval through Naviance, submit your application anyway. Again, small schools especially are going to be forgiving during this transition to the new CommonApp. They likely won’t reject you just for not having a fee waiver without checking in with you first and seeing what can be done.

So the moral of the story is that schools aren’t blaming applicants for CommonApp’s problems. Send your regional admissions officer an email and take a deep breath. It will all be okay.