Get Ready for the College Coalition Application

A Group of Elite Colleges Will Change the College Application Landscape

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Is the college application process too complicated as it stands, or is it easy enough for most high school students and their parents to follow? In what seems to be an ongoing stream of changes in the entire college testing, application and financial aid route, yet another change is on the horizon that is intended to take a different approach to the process. The announcement of the upcoming alternative has caused quite a stir, but those thinking about applying to college in the next few years will definitely need to take notice and decide how this change might impact their college application situation.

As of now, there are a few limited ways to apply to college, depending on the requirements of each individual college. Some schools require all applicants to apply using their own application form. Over 600 colleges utilize the Common Application, although some do require supplemental information. As of 2007, about 40 colleges moved to the Universal College Application. Now a group of colleges calling itself the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success will start offering its own application beginning in 2016. Currently comprised of about 80 colleges, including Ivy League and state universities, the group says that its goal is to recast the college admission process, broaden access, and encourage a college‐going mindset for all students. While still somewhat in the development process, the free platform is envisioned to consist of three parts:

  • Virtual Locker: Here the student will store academic documents, letters of recommendation, supplemental essays, portfolio items, videos and extracurricular activities. They will be encouraged to start doing this as early as their freshman year so that they will have easy access to it at a later time. This will be private to the student and will not be seen by outsiders. Items in the locker will be shared only at the student’s discretion.
  • Collaboration Platform: Out of the virtual locker, the student can choose to collaborate and share application materials with people like guidance counselors, teachers and mentors.
  • Application Portal: The student can choose to feed data automatically from the virtual locker into the Coalition’s application form. He or she chooses which documents to include for each individual institution. It will be accessible through a notebook computer, tablet, or even mobile device.

    Although the schedule may change based on user input, the virtual locker and collaboration platform are currently scheduled to become available to students in April of 2016, with the application itself anticipated to come online during the summer of 2016. Schools in the coalition will initially allow students to continue using the Common App, but that may change as the platform evolves.

    By getting students, especially low-income pupils, to think about college much earlier in their high school career, the hope is to convince more youths that they can and should apply and attend. It is also thought that taking care of some components of the process throughout the high school years will reduce some of the stress that is felt during the usual college application crunch time. If all the materials are already in one easily-accessible location, it should theoretically be easier to complete the application when the appropriate time arrives. It is also thought that students will become more aware of admissions requirements so that they do not come up short when they go to apply.

    It is yet to be seen whether this makes the process any easier, but it could be a step in the right direction.