As a Jan. 1 deadline loomed for thousands of college applicants, the computer system that handles online applications for some 350 colleges and universities was overwhelmed by the flood of last-minute activity, sending high school seniors into a panic, reports the New York Times. On Dec. 30 from 6:30 to 6:50 p.m., and on Dec. 31 from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m., there was a slowdown at the Common Application web site. Within moments the slowdown showed up on College Confidential, a web site where students share their worries. At 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 30, a student posted: "What are we supposed to do? I can’t fill anything out." Minutes later, another wrote: "This is SO not cool." Parents also were upset. "This is completely unacceptable," said Stephen Dear, a North Carolina father whose son was unable to submit his applications for more than an hour. "You have these wonderful kids who’ve been working so hard on their applications, and they’re completely at the mercy of the Common Application." Rob Killion, executive director of the Common Application, played down the delays and said the site had been running some upgrades in anticipation of a flood of applications. "That process briefly slowed the system down a bit and perhaps even caused a ‘timeout’ error for some users," Killion wrote. More than a million high school seniors use the Common Application. Last year, the organization said that more than 171,000 applications were filed in the 72 hours from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1…

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