Since the newest version of the Common Application went live this year, technical issues have led many colleges to push their early decision and early-action deadlines back. However, Penn has decided to maintain its Nov. 1 deadline.
“I completely understand the schools who have done that, and everybody needs to make their own decision, but we are not going to do that,” said Eric Furda, dean of undergraduate admissions and president-elect of the Common Application’s Board of Directors.
The Common Application’s newest interface, CA4, went live on Aug. 1, 2013. However, within the first few weeks, the system crashed, and most of the 517 member colleges were unable to upload their supplements. This caused a delay for applicants who wanted to get an early start.
Colleges have also had issues retrieving applicant documents and transcripts.
“Up to this point, we are not able to completely pull in the documents in the manner that would make it the most efficient for us, but we’re able to pull in documents,” Furda said. He explained that the Office of Admissions has to retrieve documents “in a manual way” now because of the glitches in the interface.
The Common App has recently fixed two of the major issues, one of which deals with payment problems and the other which deals with compatibility with the Chrome browser.
Furda said that the new interface this was a substantial technology release, and that at the end of this application cycle, he is certain the Common Application will review the process and take in important lessons.
Despite the fixes, many schools have extended their early program deadlines a week to Nov. 8, including Columbia University, Duke University and the University of Chicago. Syracuse University has extended its early decision deadline to Dec. 1.
“Right now I would rather try to work through those pieces than push the whole process to a later deadline,” Furda said. “We’ll do everything we need to do to work with students who are having issues, but we want to know what those issues are on the individual level, and we’ll address those.”
In addition, many users experienced and continue to experience issues with logging in, unsupported browsers, formatting essays, document submission and payment. “It has really created an overall climate of uncertainty that is increasing stress for students,” said Furda.
Some applicants and schools have been able to successfully submit and retrieve applications without difficulty, though others are having a really hard time.
“I know that it crashed a little while ago, but I was not affected by it,” Keren Radbil, a high school senior from Stoughton, Mass., who is currently applying to colleges, said.
Similarly, Jordan Katz, a high school senior from Gainesville, Fla., said that he has experienced “no issues so far.”
Furda suggests that applicants start early. They should complete the Penn membership questions first, indicate through which program they plan to apply, and submit their applications as soon as possible. This will put applicants on the Office of Admissions’ radar early and allow them time in case issues arise.
“There are a lot of good things with the new interface, such as the fee waiver,” Furda said. “But there are real issues here, and people are working around the clock to resolve them.”