The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is more than just a college application; it’s also a commitment from 150+ colleges to provide the best college experience for the low-income and the first-generation student, from the application process up to graduation. With the online website, students can create a “locker” at any time in their high school career to start storing school documents, letters of recommendation and material that may be of use along the way.
That is a general definition of the Coalition Application. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the application and whether or not you should use it.
How the Coalition Application Started
During the summer of 2016, a group of 80 colleges formed the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success. The coalition’s goal was to create a general college application that would theoretically provide access to those who did not have that accessibility previously. Has it provided that? Years later, I would say no. If the intent was for underrepresented and underprivileged students to begin their college process earlier and therefore have access to tools that will help them through their journey, I don’t see that to be the case.
The Coalition Application vs. the Common App
I see the Coalition Application as a more cumbersome step-child to the Common Application, which is more user friendly and well developed. While the Common App has been around much longer and therefore has had more time to improve, I would have thought that the Coalition would have taken the many positive features from the Common App and implemented them on their platform as well – they have not. The Coalition has some interesting features that are not in the Common App, but I’m not so sure how many students actually use them, such as The Locker and the Collaboration Space.
Who Should Use the Common Application?
As I always say, we just live in their world. There are colleges that use the Coalition Application exclusively, meaning that if you want to apply to their school you have to complete the Coalition application. We’ve worked with hundreds of students who have completed the Coalition Application and we have helped them successfully do so. It’s not insurmountable whatsoever. It’s just that the Coalition Application is not as streamlined as the Common App. My advice to you is if you have a school that you are applying to that participates in both the Coalition Application and the Common App, use the Common App.
Interesting Information About the Coalition Application
A few years ago I attended a breakout session on the Coalition Application while at the IECA conference. Here is some information I learned, which you may find helpful:
The Coalition has 150+ university members
Some members are using the Coalition Application exclusively for their applicants (e.g., University of Maryland, Virginia Tech)
In order to be a member of the Coalition, schools have to meet certain eligibility requirements such as 4 and 6 year graduation rates, across demographics, and meeting a certain level of meeting financial need
The member institutions have recognized the transparency about access and affordability
The Coalition partners with Kahn Academy for test practice accessibility
You can set up a profile and begin to complete the Common Application as early as you like
There are 3 noteworthy sections to the Common Application: The Locker, Application Portal, and Collaboration Space
The Locker is a one-way portal to the application where only the student can see it unless they decide to share with others. It can store written work, multi-media projects, information on activities throughout high school and letters of recommendation confidentially. You can upload documents into your locker as early as 9th grade. Colleges cannot view a student’s Locker items unless the student submits it as part of their application.
The Collaboration Space allows a student to share work with a mentor or counselor
Overall Thoughts on the Coalition Application
Although I am skeptical about the accessibility and likelihood of low income and first-generation students knowing about the Coalition Application’s accessibility, it’s a positive step for all students to begin thinking about college and all that precedes it during their high school career to build and understand their package and how it can be presented to schools. I do, however, recommend my students use the Common Application over the Coalition Application when possible.
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