This year students will have the option of a new application portal offered by the Coalition for College Access, Affordability and Success. More than ninety colleges have committed to using the Coalition’s application. Alphabetically they range from American to Yale, including all Ivy League schools except Princeton, plus public universities, private research universities and small liberal arts colleges. Schools qualified to join the Coalition are committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated need. Their Frequently Asked Questions offer a good initial understanding of this new application opportunity.
In my work, this new application’s “Digital Locker” will be invaluable. Starting in their freshman year, students can store portfolios of their work such as audio and video performances, publications, business plans, patent applications, school assignments, research work, artwork, and more.
This year I had several students who would have benefited from this tool. The Common Application, as now structured, emphasizes brevity. But some students have an exceptional skill, or they are a particularly good match for a program or institute within a college, or they present a less competitive record of grades or test scores which might be offset by an exceptional record in another area—these are times when a broader presentation of themselves is crucial. Working within the current Common Application, an admission reader who might be curious about these documents would not have easy access to more more information than what can fit into the Common Application's space limits.
Over the years, my students have struggled to submit a more complete application by bringing information to interviewers, using the Additional Information section, exploiting Slide Room technology, and hoping that an admission reader will copy and paste a website address. In the Coalition’s application tool, with the student’s permission, colleges may access information in the Locker. Here are some examples of items that could have been easily accessible to admission readers using the new Locker:
· “Tara” has several publications, including a book with many reviews on Amazon.
· “Michael” has a patent pending.
· “Alice” has an impressive athletic record. Since she does not plan to play her sport in college, there was no contact with the college’s athletic director or coaches.
· “Rico” has a substantial business plan for a small family business.
· “Remy” has a stunning collection of fashion photography on Instagram, with almost 2,000 followers.
· “Jason” has danced with semi-professional company since middle school, with his performances available on You-Tube. “Mireya” has an impressive art portfolio. Neither Jason nor Mireya can afford Slideroom.
The Coalition Application also has the advantage of information storage. Michael, Remy and Alice had won awards beginning in their freshman year, but hadn’t saved the information and couldn’t remember the details, including the names of the awards. We spent a lot of time tracking down this information, and we were able to list Remy’s complete list of awards only on her last few applications.
Photo: "11th Annual Southern Foodways Symposium, the Liquid South," University of Mississippi, courtesy Southern Foodways Alliance, 10.24.08