Stanford, other institutions to offer new 'Coalition Application'

The coalition's goal is to recast the admission process, broaden access and encourage a "college-going mindset" for all students beginning their freshman year in high school.

L.A. Cicero Stanford Admission office

Applying for admission to Stanford and 82 other American colleges and universities will become more engaging and less intimidating next year thanks to the rollout of the new Coalition Application.

Starting in 2016, high school students seeking admission to Stanford will have two ways to apply online: the current Common Application and the new "Coalition Application" created by the new Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success.

The Coalition Application, which will open in July 2016, features a modern, intuitive interface that will allow students to use notebook computers, tablets and mobile devices to fill out the form.

Prospective Stanford students will be able to use the new application to apply for admission for fall 2017, said Richard H. Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid.

The Coalition Application is one of several new college planning and application tools the new organization is developing to streamline the admission process, to make the application process more engaging and less intimidating, and to allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years.

Stanford is one of 83 colleges and universities across the United States that formed the coalition.

Shaw said the "beauty" of the coalition, which has been two years in the making, is that all of the member colleges and universities have very high graduation rates and a commitment to making college affordable.

The coalition on Tuesday also announced plans to create the "Coalition Portfolio and Collaboration Platform."

On that platform, students  starting in the ninth grade will be able to upload writings, videos, artwork and other projects throughout their high school years, creating an inventory of materials to use in their applications. The free collaboration platform will facilitate communication by allowing students and counselors to quickly contact their partners at coalition schools.

The new online tools and application are intended to address many of the barriers that prevent students from attending college or successfully earning a degree.

"A great deal of thought and commitment has gone into establishing a premier process for students," Shaw said.

The initial release of the portfolio and collaboration website will be available to high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors beginning in January.

"Starting to think about college earlier reduces some of the pressure of the application process but, more importantly, it sets the expectation that students should aspire to attend college," said Seth Allen, vice president and dean of admissions at Pomona College. "There are so many talented students who should aim for a great school, but they often don't understand the path to get there."

For example, research has found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the financial aid they qualify for. As a result, even the most highly qualified students do not attend college, attend a college that does not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees. Attending a high school with a college-going culture greatly increases students' college success.

The coalition hopes to address these findings through its free online tools and increased transparency around admissions and financial aid.

"The fact that some highly motivated and well prepared students do not apply to and enroll in the college they are best suited for is a persistent problem," said Barbara Gill, associate vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maryland. "This coalition is working to mitigate this problem by empowering students from disadvantaged backgrounds to immediately identify a diverse set of schools that are likely to provide considerable financial support and will invest in their academic success."

Members of the coalition include a diverse group of public universities that have affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents, and private colleges and universities – such as Stanford – that provide sufficient financial aid to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit.

"Coalition schools offer students incredible choice in location, size, selectivity and mission, but we all share a commitment that the students we admit can afford to attend and will have a high likelihood of graduating," said James G. Nondorf, vice president for enrollment at the University of Chicago.

"That should give students confidence that college is within their reach, and that they can be successful. We hope this effort will ultimately be successful in persuading many more students to aim for college and help ensure that they are prepared to do so."