We have lived so long with instant communication and the magic of the online world that many of us tend to forget how fragile it really is. I once heard tell that one of the early pioneers of the internet is still amazed that it works at all. My kids are employed in the background of this ecosphere keeping sites up and running and they will tell you it is all pretty tenuous. The Common Application, where over one million students submit more than 4 million applications a year, went down a few weeks ago. In the past, it has crashed or slowed to a snail’s pace during important deadline days. Technology is wonderful. When it works. But you shouldn’t count on it functioning if you wait until the last minute.
Last week, over 409 students at Bearden High School in Tennessee found out that an administrative error invalidated their October ACT test results. For those relying on this test for college scholarships and applications, the news was crushing. I’ve had students with clueless proctors in an SAT Math exam who refused to allow CollegeBoard approved watches to keep track of time or misunderstand the length of the writing portion and stop students 20 minutes early during the essay. Human error happens. If a late test date is your student’s only chance at a particular test, they may be disappointed.
I share these stories only as a reminder, not as a scare tactic. It is important to work early and have everything in place several weeks before any deadline. Your student may have trouble uploading or the system might be down. I have also found that applications completed in the ninth hour tend to be sloppy. In the case of tests, try to have them finished by the end of the Junior year. There is no way to make this process easy, but there is a way to make it less crazy. The choice belongs to your family.
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