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Common Application Works to Address Glitches, Offers Apology

It's another layer in the college process that stressed out high school seniors didn't need: Technical glitches in the Common Application.

Over the past several weeks, students have encountered a range of problems trying to log on, upload documents, or process their applications online through the system that now serves nearly 500 institutions.

Last Friday, officials from the nonprofit organization that manages the Common Application issued a statement of apology and explanation, pledging to fix problems and better communicate updates to the public.

"The last few days have comprised the most difficult period in the Common Application's nearly 40 years of service to the education community," said the statement from the membership-based organization said. "You have no doubt read news stories and social-media conversations about the challenges facing applicants, recommenders, and member colleges. As an organization, we have been too slow to respond. That ends today."

The statement acknowedged a variety of issue have plagued the process since Aug. 1, when this year's new version of the application with a software upgrade was posted online. Individuals are still encountering problems, which can in some instances be solved by contacting the help center, while efforts continue to research patterns among the individuals affected to figure out the root cause.

Because of the problems completing the form, some colleges have extended the deadlines for early admissions and early applications, which typically have been from mid-October through early November.

This year marked the first time since 2007 that the Common App rolled out major revisions. The popularity of the system, which allows students to fill out one application and send it to multiple campuses, has exploded in recent years. It processes nearly 3 million applications a year from nearly 700,000 students.

The recent problems have raised concerns about the college community relying so heavily on one system for electronically accepting applications. The lesser-known Universal College Application, which started in 2007, serves 33 member colleges.

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