College applications for many schools such as Florida State University and the University of Florida were due Nov. 1 if seniors wanted their requests to receive priority status in the schools’ application offices. But Chris Kehm could not send his entire application on time due to confusion about how and when he was supposed to submit his Self-reported Student Academic Record.
The SSAR is a list of all the courses that have been and will be taken for high school and/or college credit.
Kehm recounted why he was so confused with the application process.
“I wasn’t able to send my application in on time because the application websites were extremely unclear about when I had to submit the SSAR and if I had to submit it with the full application,” he said. “For example, UF had the SSAR due on Dec. 1, but the priority application deadline was due on Nov. 1. So when I saw that I thought I had plenty of time to make my SSAR, but I was wrong and I am very annoyed.”
“According to Campus Explorer in its Did You Miss a College Application Deadline, applying late reduces admission and financial aid chances by 50 percent.”
“My chances of being selected are significantly lower now,” Kehm said. “I mean my entire future is at stake because of this mess. I just have to hope that a submission a day late is not a problem.”
Senior Cole Sandberg also experienced extreme confusion with submitting the SSAR.
“When you go to the University of Florida and FSU admissions pages, there are no clear answers regarding how to submit the SSAR; they just tell you to do it, and that’s basically it,” Sandberg said. “I was confused up until the point where UF sent me an email after I applied that gave me a link to submit it. So it was very stressful because you needed to submit all forms by the first and it was already the second.”
Mike Drake, who heads West Shore’s guidance department, said he is is not convinced that SSAR problems are entirely the colleges’ fault.
“If it’s just that a student missed a deadline, that’s on them to know when the deadlines are when to get their stuff in,” he said. “If you’re going to apply for something you need to know when the deadlines are. The issue is that teenagers often wait till the last minute to get things done. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if you miss a deadline you miss a deadline.”
However, Drake acknowledges that since pandemic lockdown, the guidance department’s application support system has been compromised.
“The last couple of years have kind of derailed what we do every year,” he said. “We haven’t done it in the past two years because of COVID 19, but in August we usually have a senior parent meeting where we go over all this stuff, like the college application process.”
University of South Florida sophomore Zack Shahzad and West Shore Class of 2020 graduate, recalls that his application process was difficult.
“I remember that a lot of the Florida colleges and USF especially had vague and confusing websites,” he said. “I remember it took me a couple of days to figure out how to add my SSAR to the other forms, and the college websites were no help. Hearing that seniors this year are having trouble with the SSAR makes me think that there is a long-standing problem with Florida college applications regarding college websites and the SSAR. On behalf of all future college applicants, I really do hope that colleges will begin to see the problem in their directional services and will take steps towards simplifying them.”
By Logan Couture