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Common App goes off line in preparation for August 1 relaunch

High Point University will be joining the Common Application in 2014-15.
High Point University will be joining the Common Application in 2014-15.
Nancy Griesemer

In preparation for the August 1 relaunch of its electronic application system, the Common App will be going off line for a little retooling on Wednesday, July 23, at 12:00 PM Eastern Time.

If you haven’t been through this process before, be aware that all current application accounts will be deleted, and you will not be able to save previously-entered information.

Before July 23, everyone is welcome to download and print out copies of submitted applications by clicking the .pdf icon next to colleges listed on their “dashboards.”

Note that the icon will not appear if you didn’t complete the application process for any of the colleges remaining on your dashboard. You can only save printouts of submitted applications.

For eager beavers among rising seniors, this means that any information provided in anticipation of 2014-15 applications will be deleted from the system. You will need to start from scratch and re-register after August 1.

Students still finalizing plans for Fall 2014, who wish to apply to Common App member schools with rolling deadlines or deadlines after July 23 should contact individual colleges for instructions on how to submit applications.

Many of these colleges have their own electronic applications on their websites, which you can certainly use. Those without alternate applications can provide you with specific information on the availability of a paper version of the Common Application form for use while the Common App is off line.

For the record, most U.S. colleges and universities contract with individual application providers other than the Common Application. Their timelines for opening accounts, completing forms, and submitting applications will vary.

And you have to do your research to find out which colleges accept which applications.

For example, the Universal College Application went live for 2014-15 on July 1, with 43 member institutions ready to accept your application starting now.

If you are California dreaming, you are welcome to begin filling out the form used by the entire University of California system on August 1. The completed application must then be submitted between November 1 and 30.

Students interested in Historically Black Universities (HBU’s) may use the EDU, Inc. “Common Black Application” to apply to a group of colleges for one small flat fee.

And if you’re applying to one of the colleges in the Texas system, you will be using the ApplyTexas form, which goes live on August 1.

But as long as you’re researching applications, you may as well begin taking a look at essay questions during the run-up to opening day for the Common Application.

In fact, the Common App is not changing personal statement prompts for the coming year. While the application is off line, the five questions from which you must choose may be found in the Common App’s Help Center.

In contrast, the UCA is much less directive and essentially asks applicants to write a personal statement on a topic of their choice as well as to provide a short (100-150 words) activity description.

But for many colleges, the personal statement is just the beginning. You may also be asked to write for each school on your list anywhere from one to as many as seven or more college-specific essays, the prompts for which are slowly rolling out for 2014-15.

These pesky, but very important, essay questions can usually be found on individual college websites or by subscribing to aggregating services like the All College Application Essays app (now available on all Apple and Android devices) or College Essay Organizer.

There’s lots to keep you busy between now and August 1. So much, in fact, that you probably won’t even miss the Common App for the eight days or so it’s off line.