As we begin a new school year with a new way to apply to college, several questions remain about the rationales that led to the formation of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success. Some of the mechanics of applying through the Coalition’s Common Application-like format have been covered here, but larger and more philosophical questions still hang in the air. When a coalition of high-powered institutions and others aspiring to similar heights imposes itself on the college admission world, very clear reasoning should be part of its introduction.
Unfortunately, that has yet to happen. The Coalition’s website states that it was formed “to improve the college application process for all students as they search for and apply to their perfect college.” But how that actually happens remains obscure and the Coalition’s chaotic rollout continues to resonate negatively among many high school counselors.
Annie Reznik, the Coalition’s Executive Director, appears eager to connect with the counseling community. Hopefully she will provide a clear voice for the group that articulates what the Coalition is attempting to accomplish. With that said, I’d like to ask her the following questions:
- The rationale provided for the formation of the Coalition remains obscure. Although the primary reason was to provide “access” to underserved students, other reasons given by member institutions have focused more on fear of another glitch in the Common Application, great marketing opportunities and the advantage of competition among application processes. Why was the Coalition formed, and what is the definition of “access” it uses?
- How do the Coalition’s application methodologies provide the increased access to college for underserved students it claims to? What data was used to support this claim?
- Most Coalition members are also members of the Common Application and the forms are essentially the same. Why should applicants use the Coalition’s application form over the CA’s?
- Many Coalition members already do a good job attracting applicants and creating classes from diverse backgrounds. Why was there a need for a coalition of colleges already successful in this area?
- How will the Coalition address the issue of access to technology that affects poorer students’ ability to learn about and apply to college?
- How has the counselors’ advisory board been used to inform Coalition members about issues surrounding access? How substantial has that consultation been and what have been the results?
- The rollout of the Coalition was rocky, to say the least. What is your strategy for addressing the residual problems associated with that, particularly regarding relationships between the Coalition and counselors?
- How will the Coalition track the success of its application and other elements and how will it report back to its constituents? What data will be collected and how will it be used?
- How will any data collected benefit students, high schools, or colleges and universities?
- Aside from providing this new application and the “locker,” how will Coalition members actively work to support access and success in college for underserved students?
The issue of access to a college education deserves energetic and constructive approaches from every side. I look forward to Annie’s responses to these questions.