A Revolution in College Admissions

In the spring of 2016, a group of the elite colleges in America (it is called the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success) introduced a template for an approach to applying to college which is designed to span the entire four years of high school.

The coalition has limited itself to membership for college/universities which have a six year graduation rate of at least 70%. At the moment, there are about 80 college/universities in the coalition; including all of the eight Ivy league colleges. (A total of 140 college/universities meet the 70% graduation rate cut-off.)

Short answer: Dissatisfaction with the one-size-fits-all limitations of the Common Application that many schools use today. In theory, the Common Application increases access to college by easing the paperwork to be completed. With some important exceptions, an applicant need only fill out the Common application once, and his/her information is distributed to as many college/universities as needed. There are now 625 colleges included in the common application.

Long answer: Unease with the fact that currently, the college search process has an intensity and exclusivity that sorts out “winners” and “losers” without regard to educational value or equity of access.

Two examples:

  • for many of the colleges in the Coalition the admissions office rejects thousands of highly qualified applicants.
  • the early decision option was originally designed to offer an option for a student for whom  one college/university was a clear first choice. It has become a way of “gaming” the admissions process that forces teenagers to select a college months before beginning classes.

The coalition envisions a process that takes four years; the entire span of high school. Planning a high school course-of-study in eighth grade with an eye toward college admission will be hugely helpful to students from under-served communities.

Beginning in the spring of 2016, students may easily access information and videos about colleges in the Coalition via an online platform.

An application portfolio format is designed to be assembled and stored over four years beginning with the class entering as freshmen in the fall of 2021.

Good news?
The four year window makes the college search more of an educational endeavor and less like applying to an exclusive club.

Why should you pay attention?
Anytime the Ivy league admissions offices speak as a group, we all should listen. The colleges that can afford access will democratize the college admissions game.

This is smart business, too. Increasing access while expanding the process will strengthen the applicant pool of the colleges that can afford it. (College/universities in the coalition must commit to meeting 100% each family’s financial need)

Will these reforms spread to all college/universities? Will it be an exclusive benefit only to those who apply to members of the Coalition? Stay tuned.

Next e-newsletter topic? Make the college fair experience work for you.

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. David is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. His website is www.collegesearchnow.net and he can be reached there.

**More than three years of archived monthly e-newsletter articles can be read at http:/blog.collegesearchnow.net. Many readers have found my articles on how the college search puts stress on the entire family to be helpful. (Check out e-newsletter #29 from November, 2012 and e-newsletter #43 from January, 2014.)