We've posted on this blog before -- months ago -- about Common App's misleading interface. You know. Where PAYING is the first step. To PAY you hit SUBMIT. And after paying, you hit FINAL. After that, a nonexistent SIGNATURE screen to complete the submission process is supposed to appear, but often does not. [If Amazon worked this way, they would have had to file for bankruptcy protection years ago!]

Now, as the college application season winds down for many high school seniors, Common App, in its weekly (weakly?) email to counselors and advisors, finally admits it's faux pas (yet, amazingly, does nothing to rectify the error of its ways).

From the brain trust at Common App:

Submission Doesn't End With Payment

The submission process is a three-step sequence. First, students review a copy of their application. Second, they pay the application fee (unless using a fee waiver). Finally, they sign the affirmation and complete submission. Some students are stopping this sequence after paying the application fee but before submitting the application. For this reason, it's always a good idea for students to check their Dashboard for confirmation of submission status.

Duh! Thanks for telling us.

Heaven forbid a simple fix, or three. Such as making payment the LAST step in the process, rather than the First. [If every online merchant can do this, holding on to merchandise until payment has been made and cleared, then certainly, the folks at Common App could hold a student's submitted application until payment has been made.]

Or, how about this? Instead of labeling the payment tab "SUBMIT," call it "PAY." Once the student pays, skip the FINAL (which part of PAY didn't they understand?), or call it CONFIRM PAYMENT, and jump right to the SIGNATURE page. [Frankly, one would think SIGNATURE would come before PAYMENT, but, alas, that would be too easy...]

Even now, recognizing the problem at hand, Common App does nothing to fix it other than to send out an advisory. Too dumb to come in out of the rain!

Look. This is the 21st Century. The application and admissions process has become complicated enough -- and unnecessarily so -- without a 19th Century mindset (and the technological tools to match) further muddying the already putrified waters.

Come on, Common App. Get off the pot (or smoke more of it), or get the heck out of the game!

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