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Problems With Truncation On the Common Application 135

Posted by timothy
from the when-idiots-set-limits dept.
jaroslav writes "A combination of rigid caps on space and poor documentation of the space limits is adding stress on students applying for college using the Common Application, the New York Times reports. The story explains that the application lists word limits for questions, but actually enforces space limits. As a result, an answer with wide characters, such as 'w' or 'm,' may run over space even without reaching the stated word limit. It is not explained why an electronic submission must have such strictly enforced limits."
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Problems With Truncation On the Common Application

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  • by Umuri (897961) on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:00PM (#34663404)

    My guess would be they use a non-fixed width font, and therefore they limit based on whether it would print (or display) on one page. Which i can actually agree with, however the solution is to use a fixed width font, and specify a page/character limit.

    However if it's not for this reason, i agree it seems rather arbitrary(and lazy programming) to have the electronics differ from the stated rules.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      however the solution is to use a fixed width font, and specify a page/character limit.

      Problem is a lot of these fonts, while working great for code, are hard to read in narrative forms. If they are printing these out, they probably want to use a font that doesn't "look weird" for the sake of the people who have to read all this shit.

      I'm impressed they actually restrict it based on printed width. I've seen a _lot_ of form type apps where it'll let you enter the data, and then just cut it off when it gets printed.

    • My daughter has dual (US/Norwegian) citizenship, she is currently applying to both US and Norwegian colleges.

      She's a _very_ avid reader (~200 books/year, most of them from the main branch of the Oslo public library), so when Berkeley asks for the books she has read during the last year (3/6 months?) there's no way she can fit the list into the given number of words, right?

      By trial and error she discovered that using a colon (:) as the separator between author and title would not count as a word separator, u

      • by tibit (1762298)

        She should send a detailed letter telling them why their admissions process is fucked up, giving the colon WTF as an example. Finish off saying that since they obviously prefer less read candidates, she won't miss them. Oh, and add "PS: a bit of usability testing goes a long way".

        • by ultranova (717540)

          She should send a detailed letter telling them why their admissions process is fucked up, giving the colon WTF as an example.

          You do realize that said letter will be trashed after a low-pay secretary gets a single glance on it, possibly sooner, right?

          Finish off saying that since they obviously prefer less read candidates, she won't miss them.

          Nor will they miss her. US colleges are businesses, and thus only care of how much money they can extract from you. A less read candidate may well be preferable, since

          • by tibit (1762298)

            Oh no, you address that directly to the Dean of Admissions. Via snail mail. With a little online searching, you can probably CC to his/her home address just to be sure. Many counties in the U.S. have land records searchable online -- as long as said Dean owns real estate, he/she would be easy to find.

            US colleges may be businesses, but they detest negative goodwill. I almost assure you she'd get a reply, heck, maybe even some assurance of someone addressing the problems.

  • they have something closer to 1,000 characters

    So reading TFA this bit in the summary As a result, an answer with wide characters, such as 'w' or 'm,' may run over space even without reaching the stated word limit. seems wrong. The fields on screen are sized for lots of w and m characters but you only get about a thousand characters regardless of the width.

    It would obviously be better if the form or whatever it is told you how far you had to go. Something like you have used 125/1024 characters.

    • by Trebawa (1461025)
      It does. Each field has a number of characters listed, and it counts down as you type. It's not really all that bad; it just doesn't make sense, for a college application, for it to be a hard limit.
      • by DarkVader (121278)

        Of course it makes sense.

        Somebody has to read those, and it's a way to force you to be concise.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          Meh, conciseness is an important part of tech writing. If you are wordy you should be punished for it: state at the top to please be concise, and toss any applications that are too long.

          Harsh, but too many people are applying to college these days anyway. Gotta thin the herd any way you can.

          • Being concise is great, but in English class, it can sometimes get you in trouble when your professor requires that a paper be longer than $WORDS. These sorts of limits encourage redundancy, taking larger quotes than necessary, and replacing shorter words and phrases with longer equivalents.
          • by Meski (774546) *
            Conciseness is good, but if you carry it too far, you end up with SMS or tweet-speak.
        • it's a way to force you to be concise.

          I knew this guy who would hand in documents a centimetre thick, having worked all night on it, after the lecturer stated clearly that nothing over a few pages would be accepted.

      • But, if you have, unlimited space, you might be tempted, to overuse punctuation!.

        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Really, sir, if you think that the overuse of punctuation is the only peril implicit in the lack of word limits on student submissions, then I believe that you, sir, are very much mistaken! Indeed, there exists a broad percentage of the sort of students who, while they most usually apply themselves to the arts and, indeed, tend to ultimately engage in a career as a 'rapid cuisine chef', do on occasion attempt to educate themselves on such matters as science and technology. When such worthy fellows begin the
  • by AnonGCB (1398517) <<7spams> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:06PM (#34663430)

    Most college admissions offices print out the electronic application, and then go by that. It's incredibly ridiculous, the limits they enforce.

    • by ClubStew (113954)
      But even that doesn't always work. When was the last time you filled out an application that required (otherwise I don't give it) your email address and there wasn't even enough room to write it? Limitations are found even on physical paper.
    • It's ridiculous to print out an electronic application! There are document management database systems out there that have access controls and workflow that help keep the processing and admissions departments from drowning in a sea of folders and paper. Try OnBase, for one: today's document management system with a GUI from 1992.

      Limits are there for a reason. Not just because conciseness is important, but because the admissions office has to read 30K apps in a reasonable amount of time.

      The limits that Commo

    • by Meski (774546) *

      Most college admissions offices print out the electronic application, and then go by that.

      And then scan the printout into an image, and paste the image into an Excel spreadsheet. (yes, I've seen this)

      Or there's the people that submit webcammed movies of bug reports that run for 30min+

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:11PM (#34663464)
    You print out your application, check to see if it truncates, and fix it if it does. They could say - "the essay must fit in an x by y printed space"; but then that would be confusing as well. I wouldn't be surprised if re-reading and editing actually improves the essay.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point is that they could very easily change their requirement to ACTUALLY be "150 words" rather than "fits in an x by y printed space." It's an electronic application. It's not as though it has to be cut out and pasted into a marked rectangle on a piece of paper; the document could be generated automatically to have enough room.

      Instead, they choose not only to inconvenience the students by forcing them to go through the process you describe, but also to be completely non-transparent about what the actua

    • by jc42 (318812)

      You print out your application, check to see if it truncates, and fix it if it does. ...

      That's easy enough if you know the font and font size they'll use. Does the application give that information? If not, how might an applicant learn the font name/size?

      • by Sparr0 (451780)

        I always edit PDFs like this so that they use the font size I need them to, to fit my answer in the space provided.

      • by drew30319 (828970)
        from: http://s3.parature.com/ics/support/KBAnswer.asp?questionID=596 [parature.com]

        Knowledge Base > Completing the Application > General questions >

        My text is cut off when I preview my application.

        Not all answers that ‘fit’ on the online application will ‘fit’ on the PDF of the Common Application. While the answers you provide on the online application are below the character limit for a given field, it is possible that those answers may be truncated when the PDF of your Common App

  • Lots of forums have spaces that are to big spaces and ones that are to small.

    Other ones just go on and on.

    http://www.goodexperience.com/tib/archives/2006/10/auto_zone_job_a.html [goodexperience.com]

  • by Skapare (16644)

    They want an e-mail address? That's so 1990's.

    • The fact that that may not be a joke for much longer scares me a little...
      • Re:E-mail address? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jc42 (318812) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:04PM (#34663682) Homepage Journal

        Nah; we'll still have email for a long time. The only thing is that it'll be called by lots of different names. This is one of the standard marketing tricks to convince the suckers^Wcustomers that you have something new.

        For example, SMS, IM, and their ilk are crippled, nonstandard implementations email, repackaged with a different name so you'll think they're something new. Intentionally not making them interoperate with existing email systems is further "proof" that they're not really email; they're something that spelled entirely differently. But that (and their character limit) is about the only material difference. And the fact that you have to pay a lot more for email that's not called "email".

        It's one of the oldest propaganda tricks in the book. It's sorta like saying "We didn't kill him; we just Terminated him With Extreme Prejudice." (Remember that one?;-) If you make up a new name for something, people will often believe that you haven't done the something that you're not naming; you've done something else entirely new that isn't yet covered by and laws, rules, or regulations. (The people who used that TWEP euphemism still haven't been tried for their crimes.;-)

        But back to email; if you have a good email package installed, you may find that it also knows how to talk to most of those nonstandard "not-email" message-passing systems. It's not all that different for a message package to have a set of modules that interface to different message systems, whatever they call themselves. It's all the same job; you just format the headers differently.

        Except that sometimes you have to truncate messages, because some of the non-email email systems have byte-count limits. Not much you can do about that idiocy except complain.

        • What worries me is the rise of these "walled garden" social networking websites. Last I checked, you couldn't send a "Facebook message" to an email account, or visa versa -- Facebook's internal messaging system is just that, internal, not meant to interoperate with anything else.

          I think things will play out like this: some college admissions staff will say, "Hey, all the kids are on Facebook [or whatever the popular social networking website is at the time], let's use that in our admissions process! W
          • That nobody is getting FB yet is proof enough that it will not be done; it's even less useful than asking for your blog since that URL is short and unambiguous. Let me explain the FB "address" problem: Facebook and some others repackage "you" so you're no longer some short ID, you're no longer just your e-mail address. Often, even if you are activating a FB-to-FB "friend request," to the person planning to find you, an e-mail address is needed to find an exact match. If your contact is unknown or lurking, y

          • Last I checked you can send a message from facebook to an e-mail address. Last I heard (but didn't bother to check) you can reply to an outside e-mail sent from facebook as well.
        • Actually, IM is legitimately different than email, which has no presence notification, and certainly isn't instant in pretty much any implementation I've seen. We also have Jabber now, so IM doesn't have to be a walled garden.

          I do agree about SMS, but once upon a time, it actually made sense to have something entirely different for the cellular networks. My original problem with SMS was that it was a way to nickel and dime you to death -- but now I've got an unlimited SMS plan, so it doesn't matter. It's st

          • My biggest gripe with SMS is that there is no default-on delivery failure notification, and failure occurs all too often. I would say around 2 or 3% of the SMSs I send or receive are simply lost (and yet my fiancee continuously uses it for essential communications despite my repeated pleadings to simply call me if its important or she needs an immediate response).

          • by Meski (774546) *

            Actually, IM is legitimately different than email, which has no presence notification, and certainly isn't instant in pretty much any implementation I've seen.

            Gmail comes closest - it does have a presence indicator (since it's integrated with googlechat) and it's close to instant.

            • No, the gmail website does. The site does email, but it does a whole lot more too.

            • The presence indicator, it does with Google Talk, as you pointed out -- which means it does so with the Jabber protocol. Indeed, this only really works if someone has a Jabber account which matches their email address -- which you get for free with GMail.

              So that actually kind of proves my point.

              The email itself, if by "close to instant" you mean "maybe minutes before you get it", sorry, that's not instant. That's why there's a separate IM in GMail (Google Talk) which is actually instant, and again, uses Jab

        • by tengwar (600847)
          SMS was not invented to be email, and came in when fax was more common than email. In fact it was invented for engineers rolling out mobile phone infrastructure so that they could communicated before voice was fully up and working. It's bodged in to a signalling protocol, which is why there is a 160 byte limit - that's all that would fit into the frame, and for the original application it wasn't worth putting in concatenation. Then it was used as one-way notification from the network to the handset, primari
      • by Jonner (189691)

        Thankfully, there is no one proprietary messaging system out of the many incompatible ones that is dominant enough to replace email. Maybe we'll need an open replacement for email at some point, but so far I'm not too concerned about the Facebooks, Myspaces, Twitters, and other flavors of the week.

    • by stinerman (812158)

      That's only there because of federal anti-discrimination laws regarding older Korean-Americans.

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      What to you propose they use for formal correspondence? Snail-mail? Faxes?

      Email is very simply the best system we currently have.

  • Solution: fix it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:25PM (#34663534)
    My favorite bit is the fellow quoted in the article who laments that he doesn't think there's a solution.

    Not to be too arrogant, but anyone who knows basic geometry and how to stick two lines of code together should be able to at least imagine that there exists a solution. Is there really such a wide gap in the Two Cultures that not only does the other side not know how to fix a software problem, they can't even fathom that a fix is possible?

    This reminds me of the Cargo Cult mentality mentioned in an article quoted a few days ago, here [fordham.edu], where the view of the cult is that technology is an immutable force of nature, not a tool mastered by man, and the idea that man can wield it is so foreign as to be unthinkable.

    You'd think that university administrators in the US and their ilk would be advanced beyond that. I feel embarrassed for the poor dumb bastard.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Ultiately, I think that the isest anser ill be to just rite hatever you need to rite ithout using any ide letters.

    • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:43PM (#34663812)

      Solution: Use a fixed-width font when printing and change the limit to a character limit rather than a word limit.

      Then again, these types of issues are often steered by people who have no idea how to manage a project or engineer a system. They fail to understand the problem or research a solution and instead pick the first solution they find regardless of how well it meets the needs of people involved.

      Case in point: I work for a public school district. There is a county-wide initiative which requires additional testing forms to be filled out to determine if each district is meeting goals of the county-wide entity. The tests are all multiple-choice selections. Do they use a web-based form which submits to a database? No. Do they perhaps leverage the tried-and-true scantron forms that students have used for multiple choice tests for the better part of 30 years and the school has reams and reams of? No. Do they perhaps use the Canon copiers which they just leased and got a service contract for this year and are district-wide and have built-in document scanning? No.

      Here's what they do. They want teachers to administer the tests. No problem there. Then they need to fill out specialized bubble forms which are downloaded using special login and passwords on a vendor website we don't control in any way. If passwords don't work then the teacher is out of luck for about a week. Then they use custom software and individual document scanners to scan these forms and encode the data for collection. These scanners are expensive, and the software is per-install licensed. There is only enough money for one scanner and software license per high school. So each high school -- some of which have 50 or more teachers collecting data -- now have a single kiosk computer set up to scan these forms which the teachers have to reserve time for. The few middle school teachers who also need to do this need to come to the high schools to do this work. The high schools and middle schools are not located close to each other at all. But it gets better. They alloted money for the scanners, but nothing for the computers. They're forced to cannibalize one computer from a computer lab in each school... all of which had classes at max capacity. I don't know what the teachers in those classes are doing for the student who has no PC. Additionally, the software is really picky. It requires you to calibrate the scanner. To calibrate the scanner, you must download another form and fill it out as requested using the same pen or pencil you used on the other forms. You must do this for each class -- that's right not each teacher, but each class -- because the forms can vary from class to class. The only saving grace of all this is that the scanners themselves are really nice and work very well, but they ought to at the price we're paying. We're just hoping that the volume these scanners will need to handle doesn't cause jamming. We don't have a service agreement on these scanners, so if they break we'll have to figure them out ourselves or buy more scanners.

      This is what happens when you make a technical decision without consulting with technical people. You make everyone's life a living nightmare and waste hundreds of hours and thousands of tax dollars. You virtually guarantee that the data will not be gathered in a timely manner and that the project is likely to fail.

    • I have long subscribed to the notion that sometime in the 21st century, we will see "holistic" tech support. Your computer has bad chakras. We must induce it towards happiness with healing jingling orbs.

      It's the natural result of increasingly complex technology, coupled with a large number of people, even in the West, who still believe in magic.

      • We must induce it towards happiness with healing jingling orbs.

        Tech support staff in the future will be all female? With healing jingling orbs?

        Progress as promised!

        • I don't know, I find jiggling orbs quite 'healing', but if they start jingling you've got issues. Or you're in Japan.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      This reminds me of the Cargo Cult mentality mentioned in an article quoted a few days ago, here [fordham.edu], where the view of the cult is that technology is an immutable force of nature, not a tool mastered by man, and the idea that man can wield it is so foreign as to be unthinkable.

      It's not so uncommon as you think. I live in Vanuatu, where most of the remaining South Pacific cargo cults exist. You and the learned professor give too much credit to the rest of the world, and not nearly enough [imagicity.com] to the ni-

  • Am I the only one who is really bothered by the scope of information requested on the "Common Application?"

    Much more than half of the information requested is either woefully subjective, completely irrelevant, or none of the school's damn business.

    • by mtmra70 (964928)

      Exactly. For starters, what do they care about my parents and family? Especially if I am an adult with parents that have been dead for years? I was also confused because towards the beginning it said items with gray backgrounds are optional, yet I see a "required signature" with a gray background....

    • by khchung (462899)

      Much more than half of the information requested is either woefully subjective, completely irrelevant, or none of the school's damn business.

      Exactly the kind that makes it impossible to proof any favoritism, discrimination or unfairness after they have picked whom to accept and whom to reject.

      After all, with so much hard to compare information, it is really hard to pin down the reason that they accept Johnny to the school was because of his impressive subjective information in the form, or was it because his dad's huge donation to the school in last few years....

      Am I just being cynical to think that this is exactly why the school administrators

      • Yes, you are being cynical. While it is important to know if the applicant is an alumni relation (big points!) or employee dependent (extra point!), if daddy made a big contribution to the school admissions would already know about it one way or another. So called development cases, or "dean specials" (read: Dean of Basket Weaving's golf buddy's son needs a second chance after getting expelled from a better school), always get flagged for special consideration.

  • Not new; irony. (Score:4, Informative)

    by kainino (1042936) on Friday December 24, 2010 @10:42PM (#34663608)
    This problem has existed at least since last year (I applied last year) and presumably ever since the invention of the online Common Application. I find it amazingly hilarious and ironic that the problem is only getting publicity in the year in which the Common Application added warnings about the problem to the website. The obvious solution is to use a monospaced font and allow exactly the correct characters on the online form. (Note: some sections of the application already are in monospaced fonts. This should be easy.)

    It is not explained why an electronic submission must have such strictly enforced limits.

    It is because the form is actually just an online interface to a paper form. The warning tells you to look at the preview of the printed application to check for problems.

    • It is because the form is actually just an online interface to a paper form. The warning tells you to look at the preview of the printed application to check for problems.

      It is obviously not just an interface to the paper form. The paper form allows you 150 words. Not 1,000 characters or something similar. If you write in tiny tiny letters, you're still only allowed to use 150 words, even if you could fit 500 in the space allotted.

  • give one plenty of practice in keeping the character count down.

    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      give one plenty of practice in keeping the character count down.

      Yeah, but our comment box is so insanely big!
      By the time we're done filling it up (OCD!!!)
      people say tl;dr sigs :~/

    • A slashdot signature I set occasionally; Twitter messages I send all the time. :P

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @12:28AM (#34663930)

    College isn't the ability to do something in a given field well. That is part of it, sure. But not the biggest part. What college teaches you is how to perform a long and difficult and often times utterly pointless task and be stubborn enough to see it through to the end. That's why lots of jobs have "college degree" as a requirement but they don't care which one you have. What they are looking for is someone who would move an entire bag of rice into a bucket and use chopsticks to do it and not complain. College will teach you this. This entry form is an example.

    That's why the poster is confused about the bizarre space width requirement. It's a hurdle. That is its function. It doesn't have to make sense. It would be unrealistic if it did. PLENTY of things along the way in your education will not make any sense at all. It is important that you learn this. The task, whatever it is, must be done. And it must be done, and done in the way asked - regardless of how bizarre it seems. Or even if you have a better idea that would be faster/better/more efficient. No. Do it this way, in the way asked and the time allocated, and get it done.

    It is the perfect training ground for life in the job market into which you will be dropped into here in a few years.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      Yes, it's better to do it the long way, and then when it comes to the workplace afterwards, you won't have the inclination (or dare I say imagination) to find a quicker way to do it. After all, work is supposed to be tedious, and it's cheating if you find a way to automate the job, even if it saves the company millions.
      • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @03:06AM (#34664420)

        After all, work is supposed to be tedious, and it's cheating if you find a way to automate the job, even if it saves the company millions.

        Exactly. Wanna know why?

        Because your boss and his co-workers that have worked there for fifteen years before you hired in made that system. Last thing in the world they want is some kid out of college making them all look stupid.

        Sucks, I know.

        • by Twinbee (767046)
          Well, in that case, companies who embrace automation will kill off the weaker companies who are too proud to adjust.

          But it doesn't have to be like that - my brother worked on producing automatic spreadsheets and programs for the company he worked with. Gradually, the staff began to appreciate the immense amount of time they were saving through doing that.
          • Sure, sometimes if you land in the right environment it can go well for you. Rather fortunately I'm in just such a place. All of the things I've typed here today apply to former employers.

            Sometimes you can wind up in a place where people are treated well for their energy and enthusiasm. Sure.

            Most places though? Exact opposite.

            You're not aware of it yet but there is a network in place of established people in established positions who work very little and get paid a lot. And are deeply interested

            • Two fiercely competing companies will both be loaded up with dozens of these suit wearing lampreys. As much as they would like to ace the other, they can't do too much. Shake the trees hard enough and perhaps everyone will fall.

              'Twas ever thus.

              "And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who h

              • Fantastic quote. I only wish it were possible for me to mod you up, or give you my mod points, or something.

          • by tftp (111690)

            Well, in that case, companies who embrace automation will kill off the weaker companies who are too proud to adjust.

            Yes, if the former company is just as large and has a good slice of the market. But if not, the stupid and large company goes on, and you - a small startup that does things a zillion times better - may be acquired, just to be plugged into a defunct system and be absorbed with no trace.

            Anyway, this is where startups have lots of value. They can develop technologies that giants can't even a

    • but why don't they look at cheaper ways that people to perform a long and difficult and often times utterly pointless tasks then just say college degree needed and then have look past all the tech , community , and online schools? Is people who did work and not go to class for jobs that don't need degrees can get a job there? What about people who are in the army and want to work after the army and not go to 4 years of classes to do (some time some of same stuff they did in army).

      • Tech, community and online schools don't have as many hurdles. They are convenient and quick. That is part of their charm. It's in their sales pitch. But it defeats the purpose. They are looking for stubborn thick skull bastards who walk uphill both ways in the snow.

        Sitting in a coffee shop with your laptop getting a degree online doesn't show what they are looking for. Sorry, but that's how it is.

    • by bky1701 (979071) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @02:42AM (#34664352) Homepage
      "College isn't the ability to do something in a given field well. That is part of it, sure. But not the biggest part. What college teaches you is how to perform a long and difficult and often times utterly pointless task and be stubborn enough to see it through to the end. That's why lots of jobs have "college degree" as a requirement but they don't care which one you have. What they are looking for is someone who would move an entire bag of rice into a bucket and use chopsticks to do it and not complain. College will teach you this. This entry form is an example."

      How do you explain the fact that companies turn down people with length of experience well beyond the length of a college education then? I think you're wrong: it is just laziness. Sorting by degree is a quick and dirty way to sort applicants. Want someone normal? Batchelor's. Someone to be a contact person on complex matters? Masters. Someone to clean the toilets? Highschool. Having a big name university then puts your name higher to the top of the list. Experience, references, and having a degree in a relevant subject only matters after those two factors are taken into account.

      Of course, then the company goes and wonders why all their workers are clueless and always accomplish things brute-force, and their so-called experts are less capable than Yahoo answers responders... so maybe there is some truth in what you say.

      "It is important that you learn this. The task, whatever it is, must be done. And it must be done, and done in the way asked - regardless of how bizarre it seems."

      So you're saying that the purpose of "education" is actually to teach you to shut up, sit down, and not question if things could be done better? Exactly what I have been saying for years. Why do we still put any kind of faith in degrees?

      "It is the perfect training ground for life in the job market into which you will be dropped into here in a few years."

      And yet no one seems to have any serious issues with this. I guess that is because everyone who is "smart enough" to be taken seriously knows how to shut up, and anyone who doesn't bend over probably is "too dumb" to matter.

      As a society, yeah, we're screwed.
      • How do you explain the fact that companies turn down people with length of experience well beyond the length of a college education then?

        I suspect you already know the answer, but I'll offer my opinion anyways. People with that kind of experience are higher maintenance. They know what they can and can't get away with, having been in the system a while.

        Your job is a kind of poker match, with each side gambling on the point where the other guy will fold. Experience makes you a better player. So natur

    • Your post should be required reading for each and every person entering high school.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      "It's a hurdle. That is its function. It doesn't have to make sense. It would be unrealistic if it did. PLENTY of things along the way in your education will not make any sense at all. It is important that you learn this."

      Bullshit. Institutional problems like this are the result of evolutionary accidents. They are not intelligently designed.

      Or: "Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:13AM (#34664064)

    This BEGS to be an online form. As a matter of fact, I initially assumed (from the summary) that it was an online form, and the issue was the form created an FDF file for a PDF document that used proportionally spaced fonts - but then I saw the link to the PDF.

    Our university does its grad applications online (maybe undergrad too, but I haven't worked with those). I put together an web-based system that ties into the university database - all the document handling and review activities are managed online. We used to shuffle around crates of paper (quite literally) - that's all gone, and the faculty and staff love it.

    Why on earth is this "common application" not electronic, in the real sense of the word rather than this almost-as-bad-as-paper PDF abomination?

    • by Jonner (189691)

      I suspect that most schools are still far behind yours and rely on real paperwork. I can imagine the politics around trying to make the common application completely electronic would be ugly.

  • To save paper and ink/toner. Yes, they are going to print them all!
  • by Peganthyrus (713645) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @02:35AM (#34664336) Homepage

    Suddenly I am very glad that my habit when filling out PDFs is to download them, open them in Illustrator, make a new layer, and start putting down text. Sometimes I'll even move lines around on the form a little if needs be.

    Sadly, most people don't have this capability.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      BTW, you can do this with Scribus [scribus.net] if you don't want to pay both arms and both legs for something proprietary.

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