Not so very long ago, American colleges and universities had strict expectations for their application process, including specific standardized tests and particular application formats. In recent years, however, many of these schools have become more flexible. Although these changes are dependent upon individual college or university preference, one of the most common is greater acceptance of universalized applications.
Among these new approaches to the college application process is the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. The purpose of the Coalition application is to provide prospective college students with tools that can help them better navigate the process. Theoretically, this is achieved by reframing the college application experience as a long-term process, rather than a senior-year task.
How is the Coalition application different?
For those students who plan to apply to more than one college or university, the application process can be complicated—and it undoubtedly requires strong organizational skills. For instance, each school will ask you to submit common items like your high school transcript and your personal statement, but they may also request additional documents (like evidence of community involvement or a digital portfolio, if you apply to an art program).
In order to streamline this collection-and-submission process, the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success has created a virtual locker, or a digital space in which students can store objects like letters of recommendation, project materials, and unofficial transcripts. When a student is ready to submit his or her application, he or she can draw from the contents of this virtual locker. This means that instead of cobbling an application together in a short amount of time, students can begin gathering materials months or years in advance.
Will the Coalition application increase my chances of acceptance?
No matter the application you use, there is no way to guarantee that you will be accepted to a particular college or university. However, the Coalition application may help you demonstrate the abilities, experiences, and knowledge base that are unique to you.
You will still be required to provide schools with whatever they deem necessary for their application process, including basic demographic information. The contents of your virtual locker, however, will enhance or supplement the more traditional elements of your application. For example, on your application, you might note that you have volunteered in your community for the past two years. This, in and of itself, might not distinguish you, but thanks to the digital space provided by the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, you can include an article or video that shows your community involvement in action.
So—is it truly useful?
Like many things in life, the Coalition application is ultimately what you make of it. If you simply provide a writing sample and nothing more, the application may not do much for you when it comes to making a fantastic impression. But if you collect a large amount of material over several years, you may build a very strong and impressive application indeed.
The benefits of the Coalition application may seem minor, but applying to college can be very complex—and stressful! The process can take considerable time, and it might cost considerable money. Given that information, yes—the Coalition application may be very helpful to you.
Is there anything else I should know?
One important fact to note is that roughly 90 schools in America currently accept the Coalition application, including Ivy League institutions, large and small schools, and rural and urban campuses. The Coalition application is not available outside the U.S.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.