May 1st comes this weekend, marking the end of one college application season and the beginning of the next. If you have been paying any attention at all to the latest news regarding new developments in the college admissions process, you know that big changes have been announced.
One of the more controversial developments is a new application–The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success–an online application that has entered the scene with the promise of making admission to college easier and fairer, especially for those disadvantaged students who find themselves marginalized by the process.
The Coalition has garnered the support of some of the most competitive universities and colleges in the country and from lesser known private and state schools. While most of these schools are also working with the Common Application and offering the Coalition as an optional application, some universities—the University of Washington, University of Florida, and the University of Maryland, College Park—are working exclusively with the Coalition. This means that if you plan to apply to the UCs, a handful of private schools and UW–not an uncommon approach–you will be navigating three separate application systems.
At present, the Coalition has caused mostly an up-stir of skepticism. Critics including guidance counselors and advisors from the public and private sectors are concerned by the lack of seriousness on the part of The Coalition to present an organized, well-vetted product. One high school guidance counselor writing for NACAC described the Coalition “as a solution looking for a problem.” Why? The Coalition is still under development. It hasn’t been tested on a massive scale and its foundational parameters are poorly thought out: not-so-fresh essay topics with no apparent word count and no limits on the college list.
Seeing that the Coalition hasn’t yet met its promise to be fully functioning by this month of April, it’s hard to feel confident that it offers a solid alternative. Still fresh in the minds of many of us who work with students in the college application process is the technical breakdown in 2014 when the Common Application launched a new version of its product filled with dozens of bugs that forced admissions offices to push out their submission deadlines. Of greatest concern to me, is the promise of interaction in the “collaboration” section of the Coalition. It is hard to imagine that high school and college admissions officers will have hundreds of extra hours to review student application materials.
We’ll know more over the next four months. My advice at the current moment is to keep it simple. Stick with the Common Application and assume a wait-and-see position with regards to the University of Washington, University of Florida, and the University of Maryland.
UP NEXT: The new UC essay prompts
Felicia Fahey PhD
Felicia is a comprehensive educational consultant. She works with college bound students of all ages close to home, across the country and around the globe.