You may have recently heard of a group of US universities who are creating a new application system – a distinct move away from the current Common Application system. This has caused quite a stir amongst college counselors and higher education institutions alike. In brief this is what is involved:

  • 80 institutions are in the “club” (both public and private)
  • It’s called the “Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success”:
  • The application tools will become available in April 2016
  • The application system will open in the summer of 2016
  • It’s free (produced & run by
  • Its goal is to “recast the admission process, broaden access, and encourage a college-going mindset for all students”
  • It aims to attract a diverse range of students including those traditionally underrepresented and/or from low social-economic backgrounds
  • It aims to begin the application process earlier in the academic life of students
  • Applications will include a “digital portfolio (“virtual college locker”), a collaboration platform and an application portal”

Some criticisms of the system are:

  • At the moment it does not include Community College Transfer students (although plans are in the works for this)
  • Students can still apply via Common App if they choose to leading to potential disparity when comparing apps from both systems
  • The group is made-up largely of highly selective and wealthier institutions which traditionally out-compete their peers
  • Added academic stress to students as young as 14
  • Schools serving low-social economic populations may have limited internet access & technology facilities (as may the students) so creating an online portfolio could be hampered
  • Is the system being rushed in too quickly before all aspects have been considered?

Whatever the thoughts, whether critical or supportive, the system will be something that students and advisors will need to become familiar with in the coming months.  Be prepared by staying up-to-date with the news on the coalition’s website (above) and by reading news articles (examples below).

Links to some articles: