Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Like Obamacare Website, Glitches In Common App Add To College Stress


By Jenny Neufeld
Reporter
PELHAM, N.Y. – What do high school seniors and uninsured Americans have in common?
The websites for both Obamacare and the common application used for college admissions have been under fire the past few months.
Back in October, the Obama Administration introduced the highly anticipated and greatly criticized Obamacare website, healthcare.gov. Within hours, people complained the site was slow or had crashed.
Like the healthcare site, the Common App site has been experiencing almost identical issues.
Over the summer of 2013, CommonApp.org, a site for prospective college students to use in applying to most colleges and universities in the United States, went through a major revamp.
In addition to new questions and terms, changes in the design and structure of the website were evident, including new ways to choose colleges and submit supplements such as essays and recommendations.
Although the change was an attempt to make the college process easier on both students and admissions officers, many believe these changes have been for the worse.
Those who created both websites meant well, but their work suffered in execution.
These are examples of what happens when you try to rush a project to its final format before research and development have worked out all the bugs.
Like healthcare.gov, the 2013 Common App crashed the moment it was released to the public.
Since then, the site has experienced major difficulties, including slow connections and many crashes.
Some glitches would not let students save their supplemental essay online, which made applying impossible, as that essay is one of the most important parts to the application.
The frustration has also become evident on both ends. Forty-six colleges extended their early decision deadlines to as late as November 15 because of the problems, more than two weeks after their normal cutoff date.
Cornell University, for example, wrote to prospective students that “your senior year should be filled with excitement as you consider where the next four years of your life will take you. Instead, we know that many students are feeling frustrated as they work to complete and submit an application through the Common Application. The transition to the new online Common Application has been challenging for everyone. We understand your worries and are committed to working with you through this process.”
It’s not hard to understand that these two websites would have high traffic volume.
The Common App is just as essential to the average high school senior as health care is to the average American citizen.
So why have these sites crashed? Why didn’t the federal government anticipate high activity, given that it promoted the website as part of its goal of providing health care for most Americans? Why did the Common App site fail as well?
Many will search for answers, but one lesson can be learned already.
If you try to submit work before it’s ready, the odds are that you can expect that something will go wrong.
And for users? Do what you have to do to succeed. Don’t let a glitch stand in your way of opportunities, whether it’s securing healthcare or that hopeful college acceptance letter.
In the long run, after all, it won’t be the Common App Association that is disappointed that you didn’t meet your deadlines, and it won’t be President Obama who’s worrying about how you’ll pay for that broken leg.

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