In response to public comment to The College Whisperer's recent blog post, Oops! Common App Has Done It Again!!!, that which has been said -- not to mention all that has been left unsaid -- bears, we believe, repeating.

Below is the commentary, verbatim, for your consideration, pro and con. Your further comments, on either side of the argument (or on the fence, for those who, like Switzerland, choose to remain neutral), are most welcome.

Allow me to simply say here, and for the record, that I sense a great deal of bullying on the part of Common App and its admiring proponents (not to mention a fair amount of "ours doesn't stink"). Not from everyone in Common App's corner, mind you, painting with that all too broad brush, but enough of both undercurrent and "let's throw critics under the bus," to warrant mention.

Indeed, the folks at Common App are entitled to their own opinions, as are the masses, be they relative to CA4 or otherwise. They are, however, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying, "not entitled to their own set of facts!"

The Frankenstein monster of college admissions is on the loose. And he's looking to bully anyone who may stand in his way. Well, those in Common App's inner sanctum may be able to bully some college-bound applicants. After all, they hold in their little hands the power of acceptance and denial. The rest of us, I can assure you, refuse to be bullied!

Read on. . .


Ok, CA4 is not perfect, none of us are. This was a very large effort by devoted volunteer colleagues. I think it would be more helpful if we all contributed constructive comments and suggestions for smoothing the rough spots and getting it right. Sarcasm is neither very helpful nor very professional, in my opinion. It even smells a bit like self-aggrandizement.

The College Whisperer Mod 

Volunteer effort? Your colleagues volunteered? Gee, where did the $8 million that Common App spent on CA4 go? Frankly, when an outfit like Common App spends $8 million, they either get it right, get it fixed, or stand ready to be criticized, en masse. Self-aggrandizement? More like self preservation. And what do we get as a response from Common App? Platitudes, at best. Bullying, at worst!


It went to the programmers, not to our colleagues on the Board of Directors. You are diminishing yourself even more by these comments. Too bad, as I enjoy and appreciate most of your posts.

The College Whisperer Mod 

It would appear, from all indications, that the modus operandi of Common App is to blame the victims, rather than to accept responsibility, offering an appropriate mea culpa (let’s point fingers at the programmers, the college counselors, and the students themselves). 

Be that as it may, the specious argument that the Directors at Common App sit as volunteers, thus absolving themselves of blame, is akin to Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, shrugging off responsibility for the bank having lost billions in bad deals, while staying on as CEO (and worse, remaining as a Director of the Federal Reserve, watching over
OUR money).

The Directors at Common App are not an ad hoc conglomeration of ordinary citizens of varied interests and backgrounds, the likes of which sit on the boards of civic groups and community organizations, with truly altruistic intentions. No, they are highly compensated individuals who hold themselves out as experts in the field of higher education, in general, and college admissions, in particular, with a deeply rooted self-interest in the outcome. The Dr. Strangeloves, if you will, of the college admissions world, holding their demonic fingers over the hot button. 

Instead of owning up to the shortcomings of CA4, as pointed out by students, parents, college counselors, guidance counselors, and even other college admission professionals, the Common App board seeks refuge in its ivory tower, hurling ad hominem attacks, calling detractors "unprofessional," and saying that critics "diminish" themselves by way of their well-founded critique of CA4. 

That which has been diminished here, at the hands of "volunteer" Directors who, in great measure, have been complicit in not only creating a college admissions process that would boggle the mind of Albert Einstein, but in maintaining a system of higher education that has indebted an entire generation, is the ability of the college-bound, and those who advise them, to demonstrate exceptionalism through an interface that fails them miserably. 

College admissions officers, deans, and committees expect and demand excellence from applicants seeking admission. They should expect and demand no less of themselves. 

To conclude this rant (oh, how I love a tirade :-), allow me to quote one of your own. Clark Brigger, senior associate director for undergraduate admissions at Michigan, had this to say at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual conference in Toronto: The new Common Application “purported to have a great engine, it looked good on the outside… It rolled off the assembly line without the wheels, and didn’t even have the axles to put the wheels on.” 

Enough said! 
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