Aug 4, 2016

The Coalition goes live

Vanderbilt University
As promised, the Coalition application went live and flipped the switch last week activating three of 56 member colleges planning to use the new application for 2016–17. Leading the way are Carleton College, Indiana University, and Vanderbilt University. All three are also members of the Common Application and will be accepting that application starting on August 1. In addition, Vanderbilt is a member of the Universal College Application (UCA), which went live on July 1.

Rather than make a grand entrance and promote a system-wide opening day, the Coalition elected to go for more of a “soft” launch and will be rolling out individual applications on a schedule determined by the colleges themselves.

“No college will begin accepting applications before the end of July and each institution will determine their own ‘open date,’” explained Annie Reznik, the Coalition’s newly-appointed executive director. “Some schools do not want students to apply before mid-September and so they control for that in the only way possible — by not accepting applications. Other member institutions recognize that students may want to use the summer to complete applications and so they will make their application available much earlier.”

According to Reznik, a later start is sometimes related to “readiness,” but in most cases, colleges are merely following long-held application windows. In fact, both the Common Application and the UCA are also guided by how members decide to open their doors to applications and frequently must wait to add application supplements or other member-specific questions until a college tells them they’re ready to go.

To get started on individual Coalition applications, students will have to pretty much complete their “Profiles,” as that section represents the first stop on the road to completion. Once that information has been provided and loaded into the application, students will see required additional sections including Term (the Early Decision agreement is found here), Official Documents (recommendations and transcripts), Application Questions (specific to each college including some short answer) and Uploads (personal statement, resume, graded papers, other essays etc.).

For example, within the Application Questions, Carleton asks two questions about student interest in attending Carleton (900 characters each), one more creative short answer question (900 characters) and three brief (“fun!”) word associations (100 characters each). In the Upload section, Vanderbilt and Carleton require the Coalition personal statement. Vanderbilt also provides for the optional submission of a resume among uploads, while also asking for a short answer (150–400 words) on extracurricular activities under Application Questions. And although Indiana does not require the Coalition personal statement, it does ask for an essay of between 200 and 400 words in the Upload section.

In other words, each application is personalized to meet the individual information needs of the Coalition member college. The specific requirements aren’t much different from either the Common App or the UCA, only the interface or framework. And related application elements such as the Early Decision Agreement, recommendations, transcripts, and fee waivers require students to be more actively involved.

“Putting the student at the center of this process is important particularly for students coming from less resourced secondary schools,” said Reznik. “This ensures fewer barriers to submitting an application. It also creates less work for counselors who carry heavy student caseloads.”

This is just the beginning. Look for more Coalition member colleges to roll out applications in the coming days and weeks, while the Common App comes back from hiatus on August 1.

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