What to Know about the New Coalition College App

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Coalition College ApplicationStudents Can Apply With the Coalition’s College Application In 2016

It was announced yesterday that over 80 colleges, including all Ivy Leagues and Stanford, had formed a coalition in an effort to increase college access and revamp the way that students apply to college. Known as the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, this initiative plans to launch a new college application next year that would serve as an alternative to The Common Application.

This is big news, as most of the members of this coalition currently use the Common Application. For students applying to college in 2016, this could impact their admissions strategy and how they plan to submit their applications to colleges that are part of this initiative.

At IvyWise, we believe that information is key, and staying informed on college admissions news such as this is critical to success in the college application process. This could impact a number of current high school students, so here’s what families need to know about the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success and the coalitions college application.

It will be available in 2016.

The SAT overhaul isn’t the only big college admissions event happening in 2016. Right now, the portfolio portion, known as the “locker,” of the application, where students from 9th grade on can provide info on extracurriculars, interests, and more, is scheduled to open in April. Originally, the locker was slated to launch in January. However, after concerns from parents and counselors, the coalition decided to push back the open date.

The college application itself will open in the summer of 2016, with the high school class of 2017 being the first to use the new application.

Colleges will have more opportunity to customize the application.

While the Common App offers colleges the opportunity to ask additional questions through supplements, there’s little that schools can do to diverge from the Common App’s main setup. With the new coalition app, however, colleges can request that students submit portions of their portfolio instead of an extra essay, upload a video, and more. While there are some fields students will only have to fill out once – like identifying information – there will be much more flexibility for colleges to make their application much more holistic.

The portfolio could revolutionize the college admissions process.

One of the biggest elements in the coalition’s initiative is the portfolio portion of the application, which students can begin using as early as 9th grade. In this portfolio, students will be able to share work, essays, other writing samples, videos, details about extracurricular activities, and more. They can choose to share some, all, or none of their portfolio with schools or counselors. From Inside Higher Education:

“Community organizers focused on education might check in on students to see how they are progressing. Colleges could, at students’ invitations, provide feedback as early as freshman year of high school. Pamela T. Horne, vice provost for enrollment management at Purdue University, which is part of the coalition, said she always worries about high school students who may well have the talent to do well in math and science but don’t have anyone pushing them. She envisions universities such as Purdue accepting students’ invitation to advise them as early as ninth grade, “so we can say, ‘yes, you are on a path to be ready for calculus,’ or can say, ‘yes, you did well in science courses so here are more to take,’” and so forth.”

While the goal of this is to get students to think about college early and help students who might not otherwise receive guidance, it does raise the concern that the availability of a portfolio like this might contribute to admissions stress early on in the process.

Member institutions must adhere to strict criteria.  

From LA Times:

“To join, colleges must show that at least 70% of students graduate within six years. Private colleges must pledge to meet the demonstrated financial need of all U.S. students; public schools must have affordable tuition for in-state students and solid financial aid.”

It will rival, but not replace, the Common Application.

It’s no question that the Common Application, with over 600 member colleges, is the most prevalent college admissions application available. While the 80 members of the coalition will use the application once it’s live in 2016, it will not be required, and those institutions will still accept the Common Application. This will give students more options should one application have problems (similar to the problems the Common App ran into in 2013), however, it will leave some wondering if institutions will favor one application over another. Also, how the portfolio will factor into the application evaluation process remains to be seen.

This has been in the works for a while.

While the announcement was a big one, we first heard of this project last fall. It was initially reported last October that documentation obtained by The Chronicle of Higher Education showed that Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and other highly-selective schools were looking to create “an application solution to ensure that students can apply when another application mode experiences difficulties or system failure.” The criteria of including only “private colleges with robust financial-aid budgets, and public institutions with high graduation rates” was already in place, however, it was not clear how many institutions might sign on. As we saw yesterday, with 80 colleges and universities already on board, this new initiative has a bigger impact than initially thought.

What do you think of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success and its new approach to applying to college? Tell us in the comments below!

Related Topics

College Admissions Trends, College Application Tips

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