Online Common Application's Technical Woes Stymie College Hopefuls

It's not just Obamacare that's facing major website woes.

If applying to college weren't already nerve-wracking enough, some students are now facing major technical glitches when they try to apply.

Problems with the online version of the Common Application have foiled thousands of college applicants' efforts to submit their applications — prompting many schools to extend their application deadlines.

The Common Application, known as the Common App, is used by more than 500 colleges and universities, making it the most broadly used application form in the country. It lets students apply to multiple colleges at once, without submitting separate applications for each.

The problems with it began in August, when Common App rolled out a new online technology.

Some applicants have said they can't upload letters of recommendation or have been charged more than once for filling it out, NBC News reported. Hundreds more have posted on Common App's Facebook page just this week, complaining of everything from not being able to log in to getting an "error" message after an application is submitted.

"It crashed every single time I put in something new. The browser would just log me out. It would delete everything," one applicant, Kenji Johnston, 17, a Michigan high school senior who was trying to apply to the University of Michigan and Harvard University, told NBC News. "It took me forever. I had to use Firefox and Chrome, and all these different browsers."

NBC Washington reached out to the organization that operates the Common App. It replied:

“The newest version of the Common Application, which launched on August 1, was designed to be a robust system able to guide applicants through the complex college application process. As with any new technological launch, some difficulties arose after launch and as more users interacted with the system. We have been responding immediately to these issues as they occur, and we are proactively testing and improving the system to reduce the risk and impact of any future issues. We are using multiple methods — including email communications and social media — to keep member colleges, students, and counselors informed throughout the application process.

We have been vigorously preparing for the expected increase in volume in advance of November 1st deadlines. We have brought in more individuals to handle both customer support and any technical issues. Our goal is to make this a smooth process for applicants and members. As we have done in previous years, we are encouraging students and counselors to submit their applications and supporting documents ahead of the deadline so we may offer timely support during this time for the applicants, counselors, teachers, and college.”

Among the schools that have extended their admissions deadlines to accomodate applicants' troubles with the online application are Dartmouth, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Northwestern, which have all extended their early-decision deadlines a week past the original deadline of Nov. 1, NBC News and NBC Washington reported.

St. Mary's College in Maryland said it would give students who are applying early decision a few extra days if they were having issues.

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