Now That the Early Application Crunch Is On, Six Other Questions Students and Parents Have About the Common Application

10/28/2013 05:33 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

While some technical problems and software issues have been taken care of by the Common Application folks, there are still many questions students and parents are asking. As you might guess, with early application deadlines just around the corner, the urgency and pace of these questions is building. Know that you are not alone in your confusion.

Many students report feeling anxious and befuddled as they begin filling in the Common App. As with the last blog, my goal for this one is to save you some time and assuage your anxiety by offering six new frequently asked questions and their respective answers. Here they are:

1. I hear that some colleges are pushing back their early application deadlines. How can I find out which ones are doing that?

Colleges and universities are dealing with this issue in predictably different ways. Unfortunately, there is no one place on the Internet where students can go to find a list of colleges with their respective early application extensions. Here is what I have been able to glean:

A. Colleges that have moved to a November 4 early deadline:
Emory University
Yale University

B. Colleges that have moved to a November 8 early deadline:

Barnard College
Beloit College
Brandeis University
Butler University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth University
Duke University
Emerson College
Johns Hopkins University
Lewis & Clark College
Marist College
Northwestern University
Pomona College
Providence College
Purdue University
Rice University
The College of William & Mary
Tufts University
University of Chicago
University of Denver
University of Miami
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Villanova University

C. Colleges that have moved to a November 11 early deadline:
The George Washington University
University of Vermont

D. Colleges that have moved to a December 1 early deadline:
Syracuse University
SUNY Geneseo

E. Quite a few new colleges have added their names to the Universal College Application. Among them are.
Farleigh Dickinson
Hampshire College
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Marquette University
Princeton University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Simmons College
Trinity College
Tufts University
Tulane University
Washington University, St. Louis

F. Some other colleges, such as Carleton, Macalaster and St. Olaf, are offering students the opportunity to make use of their own Part I online applications.

G. Still other colleges, such as Brown, say that they "are dealing with inquiries on a case by case basis and will consider applicants' individual requests for more time."

In order to be totally sure of colleges' early application due dates and any other changes in their policies, check each individual college's website for application extensions and deadlines. Just so you know, when I checked due dates on the Common Application's Application Requirements grid, a number of the changed extension dates were not up yet.

2. Do you submit the Common App and the school supplement separately or both at the same time?

The Common Application directions say:

What needs to be submitted together:
√ Common App
√ College Specific Questions on the Common App
√ Application Fee

What to submit after submitting the Common Application
√ Writing Supplement for a specific college

What can be submitted anytime
√ The Arts Supplement

3. A couple of years ago, my brother completed many of his Common Applications as hard copy. Where can I find that?

As of the new August 13 Common Application, the hard copy paper application was discontinued. Now only the online version is available.

4. One of my teachers doesn't want to use the online recommendation form. What should I do?

Both your counselor and teachers can complete either an online or offline recommendation. If your teacher wants to do an offline form (hard copy), add the recommender name to the recommendation section, but be sure to leave his or her email address blank. A link to a hard copy recommendation form will appear. Download that form, and make as many copies as the number of schools to which you are applying. Give the forms and stamped, addressed envelopes (with the names and addresses of each college on your college list) to the teacher.

You can submit your online application before your counselor or teachers submit their forms, whether they are online or offline.

That said, the Common Application says the School Forms system "holds all (online) transcripts and recommendations until a student submits his or her application for a college. As soon as your Common App is submitted, the held recommendations are matched with your record and the complete application is sent to the college."

5. The Common Application asks for my Class Rank and my school doesn't do that. It asks for my GPA, do they want weighted or un-weighted?

According to the Common App Knowedgebase: "You should report your current Class Rank and GPA, even if they might change later in the school year. If your school does not rank, select 'None' from the drop down menu. If your school calculates both weighted and un-weighted Class Rank/GPA, report the weighted value."

6. I have a lot of schools on my list. Is there any limit to the number of colleges the Common App will let me apply to?

The maximum number of schools The Common application will allow you to have on your "My Colleges" list is 20.

Finally, if you are having problems with any aspect of The Common Application, click on Help Center red arrow; then click on the top third tab, "Ask A Question."

  • "Ask a Question" will take you to the Step 1 dropdown, "Select a Category." Choose the correct description for your question and hit "Continue to Step 2."
  • Step 2 offers a list of popular topics that might answer your question. If they don't, then hit "My answer is not here."
  • The "Ask A Question" form will then come up, already noting your name and email address at the top. Move down the form and complete the Ticket Description: a) A summary of your question; b) Details--be sure to describe what is going on in some detail so that the Help Center people can understand and solve the problem for you; c) A category that further identifies your question. d) You may also attach a file; e) Hit the Submit button. The Common App people say that they will respond as quickly as they can.

I hope this blog helps you complete and submit your Common Application. My third and final blog about the Common Application will be going up soon.