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Dear Common App, Were you specifically designed to frustrate your users?

Gwen in VA

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Today's heacdache encounter with the Common App--


Dd has a school that says that it requires 3 recs but will take up to 5. Being a hoemschooler and having trouble deciding which of her six recommenders to ask, dd decides to use all five possible recs for this school. Problem -- the school asked for recs from "teachers", and dd listed her employer as, well, her employer. She can't use the Common App to "request" a rec from him for this particular school, since the Common Aoo will only link to teachers for this particular school the way the school has its setup set up.


Thankfully, dd called the school, which was responsive and is now trying to take care of the problem before it is flooeded with applicants who can only submit recs from teachers and no one else. Also thankfully the college was reasonable and said that the employer could send in his rec by snail mail.


Almost every day this week we have had another encounter with the stupid limitations of the Common App. We are practically encountering a Common Aoo Catch-22 on a daily basis here!


I think the Common App may work for vanilla students who are applying to a bunch of similar schools, but for students who don't fit in any box and are applying to a diverse group of schools with wildly varying supplements, this is a NIGHTMARE!


Does anyone else have an entry for "Common App Catch 22 of the Day"?

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For punishment, I think the developers of the common app should have to use it themselves in order to keep their jobs.  They should upload their resume, ask people for recommendations and get those sent, etc.  There is a special place in hell for lousy developers who don't test their stuff.  (Said a former software developer.)

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It's possible that Common App stands for something other than we'd been assuming.


Common App(alling Document)


Common (Mis)App(rehensions)


Common App(arent Deficiencies on the part of the makers)


Common App(le of Discord) -- I'd never known the phrase 'apple of discord' so I learned something tonight!; 'apple of sodom'  seems even better!






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Perhaps you could use last year's form, printed out and snailmailed? The downloadable form was designed to be filled out by hand, not typed into. It had blanks that didn't have the right number of spaces for the questions they asked and blanks that made things disappear and heaven help you if you tried to use the delete key to retype something. Very frustrating but it was doable if you had the full pdf software, and solved many of the other problems. Would schools care, do you think, if you continued to use that version lol?


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I sympathise.  We are the final stages of filling in Calvin's British common app (UCAS form) and it's been a puzzle fitting some things in.  He took some GCSE exams before he went to school, using two different schools as exam centres.  It took us a while to work out the best way of inserting that into the form.



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I uploaded my first file fine.  There are button at the bottom of the preview window that say 'does it look right?" yes or no.  When I uploaded the second file, I could not see the buttons.  They were below the bottom of my screen.  I had to figure out how to get into full screen mode in order to see the buttons.  Fine. 

Can't see continue button

If you are unable to see the 'Continue' button at the bottom of any page you are working on please see below on how to resolve this issue:

  1. Try using Chrome to fill out this section of your application
  2. If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox, you can hit F11 and the full screen will appear. Remember to hit F11 again when you are done so the page displays correctly.


The third file was my transcript created in Excel, with lots of small cells with letter grades and credits.  It uploaded all akilter.  Still thinking about that one... :cursing:


ETA:  I "printed" my Excel spreadsheet to a PDF printer then uploaded the file.  Here is a glimpse of the uploaded bottom corner:



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Sue ... so, obviously the PDF you generated at home looked OK?


As you know, I couldn't upload ANY of my files by myself, but the tech support people were very helpful. (Although it was frustrating not to be able to do it myself, and to have to wait a day or two to have them do it.)


Also, just FYI -- I sent all of my files to tech support as PDFs, and they were altered a bit during the upload - specifically, some of the fonts were changed. On the transcript, at least, it was a larger, more-legible font, so that was a change for the better. (On the course descriptions, it was not necessarily better, but acceptable, and I was so ready to be DONE ...)


Anyway, Sue, since we're using the same "parent" transcript :) perhaps the font is not supported by the Common App ... Since tech wouldn't get to it until Monday, you could try changing the font (to what, I don't know) and make a PDF and try uploading that new transcript ... ??    :confused:

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Anyway, Sue, since we're using the same "parent" transcript :) perhaps the font is not supported by the Common App ... Since tech wouldn't get to it until Monday, you could try changing the font (to what, I don't know) and make a PDF and try uploading that new transcript ... ??    :confused:

Just an FYI -- I made my son's transcript and course descriptions in MS Word. For the transcript, I used the "Table" function. I also used Times New Roman for the font, and then used Cute PDF Writer to make a PDF. The whole thing uploaded with no problems.


With my older son's transcript several years ago, I also used MS Word, but I had an unusual font in there (I can't remember which). That gave me a heap of trouble, and I had to go back and convert everything to Times New Roman, and once I did that, it worked out fine with the uploading.


So -- just another option. Best wishes to all who are dealing with the CA.


We noticed another issue with the CA, albiet minor. My son went to invite one of our parish priests to write him a recommendation. Under "Other Recommenders", there is a selection for "Clergy". So far so good. Then he went to the title drop down box and discovered that there were no titles appropriate for clergy. He emailed the CA people, and they said they knew about it and were going to fix it, but when?



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Update: I have just uploaded my excel transcript that was generated from the same template as yours, Sue, to the Common App as a pdf  and it looks exactly as it should!


You must embed the font in the pdf file itself, otherwise the system will try to substitute the font which will change the widths of everything (and it looks like this is what has happened for you, Sue). 

How exactly that works will depend on the way you generated the pdf (Acrobat, pdf creator,....)


In Excel (either 2010 or 2013 version):

go to "Save as"

select pdf

in the window that opens go to "Options"

select "ISO whatever compliant PDF/A" (A for archivable)



You can open the resulting pdf file in acrobat viewer (which is free), go to File-Properties-Fonts to view which fonts have been embedded.

I hope this helps. I will post this in a separate thread so everybody sees.


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