Jul 1, 2018

UCA and the Coalition Application officially launch for 2018-19

Virginia Tech will be Coalition 'exclusive' for 2018-19

It's launch day for both the Universal College Application (UCA) and the Coalition Application. Don’t expect fireworks or a marching band. These milestones usually sneak past without much in the way of fanfare. And why would that be? It’s mostly because while the platforms may be fully ready to accept completed online documents for fall 2019, individual colleges might not be ready to open their 2018-2019 applications quite yet. It's sort of like Opening Day without the teams.

And why wouldn’t the teams show up? Sometimes it’s a matter of technology. Colleges may not have been able to get enrollment management technology to link-up with the application platforms. Or it can be a simple matter of organization—colleges aren’t geared-up yet for the next application cycle. They haven’t updated the rules or written the essay prompts for the coming year.

In many instances, they might not have finished filling the class they hope to welcome this September. Or they philosophically disapprove of students getting a jump on their applications too early in the summer. This is even though it’s easy to see the entire process is starting earlier and earlier, with increasing numbers of colleges moving early deadlines to October 15 or notifying applicants of decisions under rolling admissions policies not long into the fall.

But quite frequently, the failure to launch on Opening Day amounts to a courtesy nod to the Common Application, which will go live for 2018-19 on August 1. Some admissions folks think launching on either the UCA or the Coalition Application platform before the Common App is ready to go, places the Common App at an unfair disadvantage. And they don’t want to do that.

But that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating the work that’s gone into getting the platforms ready for 2018-19. For over a decade, the UCA has offered an application that colleges have come to value in terms of responsiveness and outstanding service. Applicants love it because of the quality of technology it has ALWAYS offered, including the ability to "upload" personal statements and to provide live links to online media within the body of the application. Included among the very loyal institutions participating in the UCA are Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and Johns Hopkins. It’s a bit of a secret, but the UCA actually launched on Friday. The administrators like to know that everything is in tip-top working condition before the publicly-announced Opening Day. And sources tell me that eager beavers among the prospective college class of 2023 have already begun submitting applications!!

The Coalition is in its third year of operation and is introducing a number of welcome improvements for 2018-19. Among the most visible are revisions in the extracurricular and self-reported courses and grades components—nothing that will affect students who have already begun these sections of the application. Also, the easy-to-use fee waiver now includes Veterans among those eligible for an automatic waiver. But the big news is that in addition to the University of Maryland, University of Florida, and University of Washington, Virginia Tech is going Coalition exclusive for the coming year. As of this morning, the only three Coalition colleges ready to accept fall 2019 applications are Texas A & M, Trinity University and the University of South Florida. The rest of the open Coalition applications are for fall 2018—yes, a significant number of colleges are still accepting applications for this September. But the numbers of colleges opening Coalition applications will change over the coming weeks as they get organized and ready to meet the fans patiently waiting in the stands.

There’s always excitement in the air on Opening Day, even for application platforms. It’s the official start of a process that will take months to fully play out and often ends in unexpected ways.  But for now, it's more fun thinking about the upcoming holiday and there's really no reason to jump into anything but the pool.

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