The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, made up of more than 80 American universities, including the College of William and Mary, is developing new tools and a new admissions process aimed at optimizing and providing more access for potentially all high school students across America.
The Coalition’s members include several Virginia universities, such as the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University and the College. When the application is released, it will be the first time these four Virginia universities will be represented on one application.
The application currently being developed will be designed as an alternative to the Common Application that is widely used by high school and transfer students all across the United States. Moreover, the Coalition is developing new tools and activities designed to help high school students, starting as early as ninth grade, get familiar with and start preparing for the college admissions process.
“It is designed to be a place where high school students can start putting information about themselves … almost like a ‘locker’ where they can keep track of information throughout their high school career,” Dean of Admissions Tim Wolfe ’95 M.Ed. ’01 said.
Students will be able to collect activities, writing samples and personal information and store it in an online portfolio that allows them to be engaged in the college admissions process a few years before they apply to college.
“Something that has been clearly been seen, especially for those who don’t have as many resources or college guidance in their life [is that] the earlier you can engage with these students to help them as they get into the college planning process, the better they’ll be,” Wolfe said.
One of the Coalition’s goals is to help lower income and disadvantaged students in their college admissions process.
“These colleges and universities aim to motivate a stronger college-going mindset among students of all backgrounds, especially those from low-income families or underrepresented groups who have historically had less access to leading colleges and universities,” a press release by representatives of the Coalition said.
Additionally, the online portfolio will allow students with untraditional or unconventional backgrounds to reach out to more resources than their parents or counselor for guidance.
“[Students] will also have the opportunity to invite counselors, mentors, perhaps their big brother or sister … or somebody from a community-based organization to help them work on their portfolio for their application,” Associate Dean of Admission and the Director of Admission Information Systems Betsy Dolan ‘84 said. “Right now students, when they apply, only have themselves, their parents and their high school or college counselor.”
The online portfolio itself will be free to use for any prospective student. The application would only be free to anyone who qualifies for a fee waiver.
There are also certain qualifications for the higher education institutions themselves for membership in the Coalition. Among other benchmarks, membership colleges need a graduation rate of at least 70 percent. Private and public universities also need to be relatively affordable, in terms of amount of aid given, especially for domestic and in-state students.
“Hopefully in the future, more high education organizations will join in,” Tribe Ambassador Ronica Crevecour ’18 said in an email. “Everyone deserves an education.”
The tentative release date for the online portfolio and the tools that will be released with it is January 2016. The first edition of the application should be available by July of next year, although Dean Dolan stressed to take these dates with a grain of salt, as the Coalition continues to develop the application.
Despite all these new tools, Dolan noted one thing will never change.
“Nothing will change in terms of us trying to recruit and enroll the most talented, most interesting, most diverse class here at William and Mary,” she said.