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Common Application Makes Changes After Tough Year

WASHINGTON—Creators of the Common Application for college admissions said Friday they have made changes that should prevent snags that had the high school class of 2014 tweeting horror stories.

The Common Application is accepted by more than 500 colleges and universities and allows students to apply to multiple schools at once, but it had a rough applications season after new technology was rolled out last year that created many headaches. About 750,000 students submitted 3.3 million applications last year.

Officials said they’ve hired a new interim chief executive officer, conducted a review of what went wrong and put internal checks in place.

“Given the year we just had, we can’t be complacent about any of this,” Eric Furda, the dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, said during a media briefing. Furda is president-elect of the board of the not-for-profit Common Application membership organization.

The most common problems experienced by students were related to essay formatting, difficulty submitting an application and the inability to determine if they had paid application fees, Furda said. Higher education institutions complained about not being able to pull up documents that had been submitted.

Because of the problems, many colleges and universities extended application deadlines, and some began accepting applications from competing programs.

Furda said most of the problems were corrected by the end of 2013, but challenges persisted.

A review conducted by an outside firm determined that the technology had been rolled out without first being properly tested.

Common Application’s new interim chief executive officer is Paul Mott, who has a college admissions background but also served as president of a professional basketball team.

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