What is the Coalition Application?

The Department of Applied Mathematics building with an autumn tree on the side at Brown University.

Flickr user Matt

If you’ve been paying attention to college news, you might have heard about something called the Coalition Application that rolled out recently. It is not replacing the Common Application by any means. Instead, it is offering another way to apply to select colleges. Here is some information and links that will help you understand.

The Coalition Application is A Newer Application

The new application is for a set of schools that is calling themselves the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success (and yes, the Oxford comma is included in their website). So far, it has over 90 schools that meet Coalition requirements for membership. Schools involved with the Coalition must have at least a 70% graduation rate over the last six years, thus representing student success within their programs. Each school commits to providing accessibility to lower-income students; public schools will show this by offering low-cost in-state tuition to residents of their state. Private universities will meet the full demonstrated need of students.

An Application Portfolio

Part of what the Coalition believes is giving students who do not attend well-funded high schools the opportunity to have additional guidance and encouragement. Starting in 9th grade, students can begin building a portfolio in the online “locker” provided by the Coalition platform. This unlimited space is meant to be used for anything the student wants: videos, essays, projects, awards, extracurricular activity highlights, artwork, etc. The idea is that students can have a space of personal accomplishments. Hopefully, it can feasibly help guide them to a matching university or program. It also serves as a way for the student to look back and see what subjects they enjoyed and accomplished something in when they first entered high school. The locker’s content will only be accessible to the student and whomever the student wishes to share it with.

How Is It Different From the Common App?

Much like the Common App, the Coalition’s profile and portfolio space are free. The schools who are members are providing resources that keep the platform running. Additionally, it is open to younger students. The schools involved hope to help develop talent earlier on rather than just picking the talented seniors. The collaboration space allows for the students to share their work with someone of their choice. Whether that is with a school counselor, a teacher, or a mentor. This space is meant to help support the student’s search for a school as well as to offer feedback on the application.

One thing that could come of this portfolio, according to the dean of undergraduate admissions Jeremiah Quinlan at Yale University, is that instead of having students write essays for their college applications, they could instead substitute it with a body of work from their portfolio, thus giving to college or university a better idea of what type of student the person is. The Coalition is also moving away from the lack of interaction between the potential school and the applicant. The hope is that better matches can be made when the process is not immediately applicable to any school that takes the Common App. While there is a core Coalition Application, schools in the Coalition can have supplementary demands that are different from other schools. These can take the form of essay prompts or questions pertaining to the specific university.

Another Path to College

The new application is not intending to replace the Common App. The Coalition’s committee wants to open up various options when applying to college. This way, should one not work, there is another way for schools to receive applicants. The Coalition offers fee waivers to applicants who demonstrate financial need. This will stem from a student’s answers to a series of questions when setting up a Coalition profile. If a student qualifies for free lunch or ACT fee waivers, they should also qualify for the Coalition’s application waiver.

The Coalition’s platform is a work in progress. There are also some concerns about giving high school freshmen access to a college platform. However, the schools do not have access to the online portfolio. Students need to choose to share it in the application process. The application itself can be filled out at any time. Transfer students will be able to use the platform as well, which some schools cited as being necessary if they were to join the Coalition. The current members expect that more schools will want to join. Until then, here is a list of current member schools.

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