Prestige schools team up on redesigned college application

29 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Duke, NCSU, UNC join in new college admissions effort.

More than 80 of the most selective colleges and universities are teaming up to design a new application system that aims to deepen engagement with high school students, especially those from low-income families. By next summer, the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success plans to unveil an online application that will be an alternative to the well-known Common Application.

A new admissions website will include free online tools for students, including an electronic application and a digital portfolio for students’ high school work. The new tools will include “a digital portfolio, a collaboration platform and an application portal-seek to reshape the process of applying to college.” Some of the coalition schools will accept applications through the portal next summer, while others may wait until later. Its membership spans the Ivy League and other highly selective liberal arts colleges and research universities, as well as public flagship universities in states, such as Florida, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia. The coalition, which continues to add members, will be working over the next few months to develop tools and processes that are intended to address many of the barriers that prevent students from attending college or successfully earning a degree. “The college admission process today can be stress-inducing and we know it can present barriers for all students, especially for those who are the first in their family to attend college,” said Zina L. Evans, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Florida. “The schools in the coalition have individually tried many different and creative approaches to address these challenges,” said Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University. “We have come to the conclusion that we can have a much bigger impact on student access and completion if we work together.” Later this year, the Coalition will share details about new college planning and application tools that will streamline the admission and financial aid processes and allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years.

Students from wealthy families, with access to top teachers, counselors, tutors and consultants, are much better equipped to navigate application season than those who come from poverty. As a result, even the most highly qualified students either do not attend college, attend a college that does not engage their full potential or do not complete their degrees. Other application platforms offer similar tools, but the cost is high enough that many public high schools, especially in low-income areas, cannot afford to provide it to their counselors. The coalition’s new tool will help counselors begin promoting a college-going culture among all grades of high school and familiarize their students with the application process early on. Coalition schools graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years, with many having much higher graduation rates. “Coalition schools offer students incredible choice in location, size, selectivity, and mission, but we all share a commitment that the students we admit can afford to attend and will have a high likelihood of graduating,” said James G.

Disadvantaged students who might not have been aware of the full range of financial aid and academic options available to them previously will now have years, rather than months, to learn the ropes. Aba Blankson, a spokeswoman for the Common App, said the organization has redesigned its Web site and taken other steps recently to help engage college-bound students. Those that are public must have tuition deemed affordable for in-state students, and those that are private must commit to meeting the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit. “We want to make sure the universities and colleges that participate have a proven track record,” Gill said.

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