Oct 8, 2015

The ‘Coalition’ retreats—a little

In an email circulated yesterday to college counselors, the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success retreated a little by shifting a key start date of one element of their new college admissions platform from January to April.

According to the email, “Our initial announcement was made before the details were fully resolved because we wanted an opportunity to get feedback from you and to incorporate that feedback into the design of our system.”

The planned January release of the coalition’s virtual “portfolio” feature, which would allow prospective college applicants to upload pictures, videos and written work, caused enough controversy to be recast as "The Locker” before introductions were even made. Now, in response to loud complaints from the counseling community voiced online and at the NACAC conference in San Diego, implementation of the feature is being delayed by about four months.

“I feel like these folks at the Coalition made a gigantic error and have had the courage to acknowledge their error—at least in timing the release of the Locker,” said one New England based counselor. “I am still a skeptic but now have made room for the possibility that they are well-intended, although definitely still in the dog house for not engaging counselors earlier and more transparently.”

In the email, the coalition’s Board of Directors acknowledged their failure in communication, which was especially evident at the NACAC session dedicated to introducing the new application platform:  “In retrospect, we could have improved our communication by offering detailed examples of how institutions are thinking of using the new platform.” 

While not addressing the status of the new application, which may be available for completion as early as July 1, the email suggests that the delay in implementation for the Locker will “allow for more time to engage and answer questions and for counselors to be closer to finishing their work with the current senior class.”

And once again, promises were made that counselors—presumably those already invited to be part of a review committee—will have the opportunity to review the system and provide feedback once CollegeNET is a little farther along in development and prior to launch. A broader group of interested counselors and community based organizations (CBOs) will be invited for demonstrations throughout November.

The balance of the email was a word-for-word repeat of the script presented at NACAC, only with a little more clarification about the “Locker.”  According to the email, the Locker is
  • A completely optional free tool to help students, especially under-resourced students who do not have access to college counseling or costly college planning tools, prepare and organize for the college admissions process
  • A site for students to securely and privately store classwork, awards, journals, and notes—admissions offices will not have access to a student’s Virtual College Locker unless the student asks for help and advice with specific elements
  • A platform (like Naviance) for students who use the system to share drafts of application materials and receive feedback from counselors and teachers
And the Locker is NOT:
  • A college application
  • Required for admission to any Coalition school
  • A platform for colleges and universities to gauge demonstrated interest in a college—admissions offices cannot view the activities of students using the Locker
  • A source for Coalition schools to buy student contact information
The Board welcomes questions, feedback and ideas and directs attention to the FAQ page on its website.

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