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App glitches lead to deadline extensions for Duke, UNC, Meredith applicants

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Problems with the Common App have turned this fall into a frustrating one for students and parents trying to meet early admission deadlines. Problems with the Common App have turned this fall into a frustrating one for students and parents trying to meet early admission deadlines.
CARRBORO, N.C. -

Colleges around the nation, including some key institutions in the Triangle, are extending applications for high school seniors due to exasperating problems with a website designed to make the process easier.

Many universities use the Common Application, a website that allows a student to apply to multiple schools. But problems with the Common App have turned this fall into a frustrating one for students and parents trying to meet early admission deadlines.

"The students were going in and hitting submit, and it wasn't going through," said Bari Sholomon, a guidance counselor at Carrboro High School. "I had a few students, actually, who submitted several times and kept paying because they thought that they didn't submit, and they paid multiple times for the same application. So, it was incredibly stressful."

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill extended the early application time from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21. UNC said it received 16,000 applications from the site for early admissions, and about 6,000 came in the extended period.

Duke University extended early decision applications from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8.

Meredith College extended its early decision deadline by a week from Oct. 30, and Meredith provost Danny Green encouraged students not to panic and to contact Meredith counselors with any problems and personal situations.

"Some schools don't prefer the personal contact, but we certainly do," Green said.

N.C. State University, Campbell University and Peace University do not use the site.

Still, a process that is always stressful for college applicants has been even more so this year.

"I was kind of freaking out," said Brian Tanner, a senior at Carrboro High. "I was like, ‘Am I not going to be able to apply ‘early action?' Of course, I want to apply ‘early action' because the chances are higher and UNC is the school I'd really like to go to."

Sholomon said "last year, the Common app worked beautifully."

But the website was updated this year and problems soon erupted as students were uncertain if they had actually applied to a school.

"I think that's really difficult when you're talking about time-sensitive things," Sholomon said. "You're talking about deadlines and you don't get an instant response. It made it a lot harder."

Those who manage the website insist they are working diligently to improve the process.

Aba G. Blankson, director of communications for the Common Application, said in a statement:

"The newest version of the Common Application, which launched on Aug. 1, was designed to be a robust system able to guide applicants through the complex college application process. As with any new technological launch, some difficulties arose after launch and as more users interacted with the system. We have been responding immediately to these issues as they occur, and we are proactively testing and improving the system to reduce the risk and impact of any future issues. We are using multiple methods--including email communications and social media--to keep member colleges, students, and counselors informed throughout the application process.

"We have been vigorously preparing for the expected increase in volume in advance of Nov.1 deadlines.  We have brought in more individuals to handle both customer support and any technical issues. Our goal is to make this a smooth process for applicants and members."

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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