Applying to college is like the high school version of doing your taxes. But it is also stressful for the schools themselves. Like recently, when there were major tech problems with the common application.
Jeff Alderson is a principal analyst with eduventures.com, a research and advisory firm focused on higher education. He said the glitches were especially problematic for elite institutions.
“A lot of the institutions that have a lot of brand cache, and have a lot riding on how smooth their application process goes, year over year, they were really jaded by how the common app was handling their application approach, with lost applications and system outages during peak periods,” he said.
The Common Application is accepted by more than 600 schools. But of the problematic application, asks Seth Allen, Vice President & Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Pomona College, “what if it went down at a critical time and no one could apply to our institutions?”
Now, a coalition of 80 institutions, including Pomona College, all of the ivy league schools, and a number of large public universities as well, is pushing for the Common Application to not only do it better, but also to make college affordable and accessible for all students.
The group has created its own application platform – the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. One way it’s promising to improve college accessibility is a commitment on behalf of its private institutional members to meet the full demonstrated need of every domestic student that applies. However, there’s still the issue of yet another potentially confusing option facing prospective students.
MorraLee Keller is director of technical assistance with the National College Access Network, which helps students, especially underrepresented ones, get access to college.
“It may be helpful,” she said, “but you know, it’s simply going to appear to some students, as another choice.”
And when it comes to getting minority and low income students into school, Keller said, “I’m not sure an application platform is the best way or the most innovative way to make that happen.”
Schools will continue use the common application and Keller said for students, this could make the application process, an already one, even worse.
Jeff Alderson said the college application process could be made easier for all students.
“One of the main factors that prevent students from even applying to college in the first place is the application fee itself.”
If they are really serious, he said, “they should be waiving that fee.”