From Preparation to Application: The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success
From Preparation to Application: The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and SuccessCrystal Barrick, Assistant Director, Communications
This year, students preparing for college will have a new tool at their fingertips — a suite of online, mobile-friendly platforms where they can store and curate the work they’re most proud of, build a college search list, keep track of their college application materials, and get advice from their counselors and trusted mentors.
These resources come from the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success (CAAS), a diverse group of 90+ colleges and universities that are committed to providing college access to students of all backgrounds. Growing research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds especially struggle with the college planning and application process, often missing out on the opportunities they deserve. The group is committed to leveling the playing field by guiding students through every step.
“We’re providing tools and organization for students and schools that don’t currently have them,” said Will Herald, senior assistant director of admissions at the University of Chicago, who presented alongside Heidi Meyer, director of transfer admissions at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, at this year’s Midwestern Regional Forum. Herald and Meyer gave counselors, teachers, and higher education professionals an early look at three of the forthcoming platforms: the College Locker, the Collaboration Platform, and the Application Portal.
The college planning process starts with the College Locker, which will launch in April 2016. It will serve as a repository for a student’s “proudest moments and best work,” said Herald. Submissions might include graded analytic essays, videos of performances or robotics competitions, or photos from notable service projects. Students can begin filling their “lockers” as early as they’d like, and can update and refine them at will. At no point in the process will colleges be able to access this space, thereby giving students the freedom and flexibility to experiment with how they want to represent themselves and their accomplishments. And as they decide which of these materials they want to submit as part of their college applications, they can share these files with counselors and other trusted adults; the Collaboration Portal will provide a dedicated digital space for these exchanges.
Starting in July 2016, high school seniors will also be able to access the Application Portal. Here they can maintain a detailed list of the colleges they’re interested in, see the admission requirements of each school, and submit application materials. Meanwhile, their high school counselors can monitor their progress electronically and use the platform to send transcripts and letters of recommendation to schools.
A counselor who attended the session was hopeful that this tool could help her and her primarily low-income and underrepresented students, but she wondered how it would address affordability; students are unlikely to plan for college, she said, if they don’t think they can afford to go in the first place. Herald was happy to announce that, over the next year, the CAAS will work with financial aid experts and school counselors to create more supports associated with applying for financial aid and scholarships.
Learn more about the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success and its new platforms.