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Common App glitches cause issues for some university applicants

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Although the new system Ohio State has been using to gather applications from prospective students has been acting up as of late, an OSU official said the university isn’t planning to offer other ways to apply.

Users of the Common Application’s latest updated version have experienced multiple glitches, including a failure to load parts of the application and for some accounts, a failure to submit transcripts and letters of recommendation, an inability to request letters of recommendation, difficulties logging in and problems registering duplicate payments or not registering payments at all.

The Common App, a form prospective college students can use to apply to more than 500 colleges, contracted with Hobsons in order to update the program this fall. Hobsons is an academic success company that offers personalized learning, post-secondary enrollment and student support systems.

OSU began using Common App Spring Semester 2013. Other schools that use the program include University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, Kenyon College, Miami University (Ohio), Denison University and Northwestern University.

Robert Reed, the assistant director of Outreach and Recruitment at OSU, said some counselors are also having trouble with the website and haven’t been able to submit students’ transcripts and letters of recommendation. He has also seen complaints from potential applicants.

“Students are worried about us receiving the application in time to be considered for the deadline,” Reed said.

OSU’s application deadline was Oct. 1 for Spring Semester 2014 and the priority deadline is Nov. 1 for Fall Semester 2014, including Honors and Scholars applications and merit scholarships, according to OSU Undergraduate Admissions. The latest possible submission deadline for Fall 2014 is Feb. 1.

It costs $60 to apply to OSU as a first-year domestic student through the Common App, while $70 is the first-year international fee.

Despite the issues, the admissions office won’t be offering other ways of applying, such as faxing in applications or sending in paper applications, Reed said.

“We’re looking at students as they apply. The final deadline is Feb. 1 and students can apply until then. We’ll certainly work with students. It’s outside their control,” Reed said.

Reed said the biggest problems he has seen have been with loading the writing supplement for the Morrill Scholars program, a scholarship through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Honors and Scholars writing supplement.

A Common App press release said the company is aware of the problems and is working on fixing the issues.

“As we approach the busy deadline season, we are fully committed to ensuring complete and timely review of applications for all Common Application members, particularly those with Nov. 1 deadlines,” the release read.

Reed said he still expects plenty of applicants.

“I haven’t heard anything of students being so frustrated they won’t apply,” he said.

About 7,000 students are enrolled in the freshman class at OSU this fall out of more than 25,000 who applied.

Some of those students said Common App problems would have slowed down their application process.

“Absolutely (the Common App shutting down) would have stressed me out a lot,” said Andy Rielinger, a first-year in social work who used the Common App to apply to OSU.

First-year in animal nutrition Sarah Eddy, who also used the Common App, said she’d heard of the problems from her high school friends.

“One of my friends who is still in high school, her Common App wouldn’t open for a week,” Eddy said.

Application submissions through Common App are up 25 percent over the same time period as last year, according to the Common App press release. Thirty-two colleges and universities began to use Common App as their application process for the 2013-14 school year, according to the Common App’s website.

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