November 17, 2013

Cornell Extends Deadline for Apps, Adds New Application Platform

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After many students reported difficulties with the new version of the Common Application, Cornell announced Friday that it has extended its regular decision deadline by one week and expanded application platforms to include the Universal College Application.

The extension, which moved the regular decision deadline to Jan. 9, 2014, applies to all application materials, including recommendations and the required interviews for the School of Hotel Administration and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

Since the Common App began accepting applications for the 2013-14 application season, high school students have complained of many technical glitches on the Common Application website, including login and submission malfunctions.

Common Application issues have increased stress levels for both high school students and college admissions officers.

Cornell’s admission office has seen a “double-digit increase” in phone calls from prospective students and was not able to download freshman applications, delaying admissions by about a month, according to Jason Locke, interim associate vice provost for enrollment.

“Cornell is committed to the success of the Common Application,” Locke said in a University press release. “Since its founding, the Common Application has promoted a holistic selection process and has helped to broaden access to higher education.

However, in this critical moment, we feel a sense of urgency and responsibility to offer students and counselors another pathway for submitting an admissions application.”

The UCA — which has seen its member college network decrease by 37 institutions since 2010, according to The New York Times — was launched in 2007 by ApplicationsOnline, the former tech provider for the Common Application’s online service.

When their contract was not renewed, Applica­tionsOnline decided to create its own, “better” college application service, according to Joshua Reiter, president of Applications Online, in an interview with Education Week.

There are a few differences between the UCA and the Common Application, such as the potential for students using the UCA to include links to online content.

Some students submit YouTube videos, websites, social-networking pages and news articles as a part of their college application, so this feature “solves a headache for colleges that get thousands of C.D.s and videos mailed into admissions offices for review,” Reiter said to Education Week.

Other deviations between the two applications are differences in section requirements and phrasing. The UCA suggests that student essays are a maximum of 500 words; however, the Common Application requires essays to have a minimum of 250 words.

Despite slow upload times and other technical malfunctions, some first-year and transfer applicants, like Alyssa Smiley, a senior at Great Neck South High School, have decided to continue using the Common Application instead of switching to the UCA.

Using the Common Application, Smiley said she “stayed up until two in the morning” to submit her applications due to malfunctions.

She said uploads took up to eight hours to complete. “I don’t know many people who have used [the UCA] because everyone was pretty much done with their Common App when schools said they would start accepting the Universal College App,” Smiley said.

Although many schools have started to accept the UCA, Smiley will continue to use the Common App because she has already filled out most of her application on Common App. “I only have to fill out the supplemental questions, and my essay is already written to answer the question specific to the Common App,” she added.