WUSTL gives applicants new option because of glitch-filled online Common Application

​Applicants to Washington University in St. Louis now have an alternative to the trouble-plagued Common Application, which has been a source of frustration for prospective students, high school counselors, colleges and universities nationwide.

The Common Application is an online standardized college application used by more than 500 member colleges and universities. Since the latest version of the Common Application launched Aug. 1, it has been beset by glitches.

These post-launch technical problems have added a layer of uncertainty to an already unusual year because Common Application exclusive member schools have been unable to host their own application supplements.

The WUSTL supplement, which has always been available in March to allow students to begin their Washington University application in the spring of their junior year of high school, was no longer allowed and students were forced to wait until Aug. 1 to begin applications.

Because prospective students are anxious about approaching deadlines and the Common Application is still working to fix its problems, Washington University has joined other colleges and universities in accepting an alternate application, called the Universal College Application, which applicants can access through the WUSTL admissions website. Prospective students have been notified of the new option via email.

“The college application process is already stressful for students,” said Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions. “Washington U. hopes to alleviate the additional stress created by the Common App by giving students the choice to use the Universal College Application.”

WUSTL’s application deadlines are Nov. 15 for early decision and Jan. 15 for regular decision. Students who are having difficulty applying are encouraged to reach out to WUSTL Admissions for help.

“It is important for students to submit their applications as soon as possible to gain access to the Washington U portal (WUSTL Pathway), where they have access to our online scholarship applications and where they can view their admission status,” Shimabukuro said.

Applicants can use either the Universal College Application or the Common Application, and both options will continue to be available even if the Common Application problems are remedied.

In addition, the Universal College Application allows students who don’t have access to a computer or the Internet at home to submit a paper application. The Common Application does not have this option.

Shimabukuro said WUSTL has received many notes and calls from students and counselors who are worried that essays, school forms and recommendations did not properly transmit via the Common Application.

“We understand the challenges with the Common App and have reassured students that it is the content of their application that counts and not the way that it is formatted,” Shimabukuro said.

She added that WUSTL has been flexible in accepting information via email and fax directly from high schools.

Also, the Common Application has announced delays in confirming fee waivers for students in high schools that use Naviance, a college and career readiness software provider that integrates with the Common Application.

“Washington U will do everything possible to provide fee waivers for students who qualify and will review their applications, despite the processing problems,” Shimabukuro said.

“We hope that adding the Universal College Application will give students and counselors peace of mind and allow them to easily submit their applications by our deadlines.”

For more information, please contact WUSTL Undergraduate Admissions at (800) 638-0700 or admissions@wustl.edu.