Many colleges have extended their early decision and early action deadlines as a result of technical difficulties related to the common application, a universal form now accepted at hundreds of colleges throughout the country. Counselors and students were aware of the aesthetic overhaul and some content changes – most notably the selection of essay questions – associated with this year’s common application. Considering that students had no experience with the common app in the first place, many students remained unaffected by the new version of the application.
Any counselor who has extensive experience with the common app over the years will likely agree that the common has never fulfilled its promise. In fact, the application designed to make applying to college easier has arguably caused more problems than it solved. The increased use of the application has generated firestorms surrounding admissions statistics because students apply to so many more schools as a function of using the form, thereby over-inflating the number of applicants who in many cases would never apply to many of the college otherwise. While the common app has existed for decades, not until relatively recently has it earned its place as a staple in the college admissions process. Originally hailed as a life-saver, enabling students to complete one application which would lower the stress level of high school students by streamlining the process, instead the common app evolved the process into an even more overwhelming situation for applicants. Each year individual schools added supplements. Over time, the supplements required students to answer more and more essay questions in addition to those written for the common application. In essence, each college has individualized the common app to meet their specific criteria and every year the supplements serve to make the college application process more confusing than the last.
This year colleges and universities recognize the problems associated with processing the forms properly and as a result have extended their early action and early decision deadlines while the common app gets its act together. In reality, the common app has never been perfect and by and large has always caused confusion and problems similar to those that this year’s applicants face.
Students are celebrating what they perceive as an time extension to complete applications that frankly should already be complete or close to it. A piece of advice anyone affected by the extensions: get your application in by the original due date. If you want to earn admission to a place in the class, prove that you are worthy of it and avoid relying on a few extra days to postpone the inevitable.
For students unsure of the due dates for their early applications, check each individual college website for the most up to date information.