Photo By Madison Hurr
Come next summer, there will be another option for applying to college to rival the Common Application, an organization that has been used by college applicants for 40 years to apply to over 600 institutions worldwide. Current juniors and sophomores will most likely not be affected, but freshmen and current middle schoolers may be applying to college through this new program.
Over 80 universities have already joined the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, which requires applicants to include portfolios of their high school work, allows them to communicate more easily with universities, and has them focus on college preparation as soon as ninth grade.
The Coalition was formed with the notion that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not able to participate effectively in the college admissions process, struggling with financial aid and consequently attending universities that don’t engage their full potential. It is a free platform with a goal to level the playing field for students from all backgrounds by focusing more on personalized work and writing samples rather than numbers on standardized tests, for which more affluent students can afford tutors.
The universities in the Coalition include all of the Ivy League universities, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, liberal arts colleges like Amherst, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges, and leading public institutions such as the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia. More schools are expected to join.
“The new application process is a definitely an added stress and responsibility, but it will benefit students in the long run,” junior Carli Needle said. “Junior year, when most people start to think about college, can be a bit too late to start new activities and become aware of the college process.”
The new application will go live next summer for incoming freshmen. However, the Common Application will still remain an option when applying to colleges.
According to Stanford University’s website, the “Coalition Application” will encourage a “college-going mindset” for all students starting their freshman year and make applying to college “more engaging and less intimidating.” Fall 2016 applicants will be able to submit either the Coalition Application or the Common Application.
The new application will focus more on high school writing samples, and includes a “college locker,” which is like Google Drive or DropBox, except with it, students are able to share their documents with counselors, teachers and mentors to receive feedback.
It aims mostly to appeal to low-income and first-generation students in order to encourage them to pursue a college education. The application platform will provide numerous opportunities and time for students to compile recommendations, self-reflections and their own creative content.
According to an article from insidehighered.com, a website focused on higher education news, the idea behind the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success is to minimize “some of the disadvantages faced by high school students without access to well-staffed guidance offices or private counselors.”
With the recent change in the format of the SAT, some students believe that so many changes at once make the college application process stressful and unfair. Furthermore, the portfolios may add stress to freshmen by having them think about college admissions early on.
“I don’t really like that there’s going to be a new application process,” sophomore Alice Zhu said. “Having all of these changes is stressful.”
However, some students believe thinking about college early on can benefit students in the long run.
“Ninth grade isn’t too early to think about college,” Needle said. “It will encourage students to be more aware of their future, which will give them more time to get involved in community service and focus on academics.”
Since the Coalition Application is still in its nascent months, CHS staff are not quite familiar with it yet.
According to CHS college/career information coordinator Luana Zimmerman, she has received no details as to how it will actually roll out.