The goal of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success is to remove barriers to the application process, especially from low-income students and first-generation college students.
BOSTON — More than 80 universities, including the University of Washington, have promised to make the college-application process easier through a new website where students will be able to submit applications to many schools and get coaching to compile a “digital portfolio” of their academic accomplishments.
The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success includes private colleges like Harvard and Yale, along with public schools like the University of Florida and Ohio State University. Their goal is to remove barriers to the application process, especially from low-income students and first-generation college students.
Researchers have found that complex applications can be a barrier to college, especially for those who don’t have the resources to help them through the process.
As soon as summer 2016, some schools in the group will let students apply through the new website. Others are still deciding when to implement it. The UW said it won’t affect the class of 2016 (those would be students applying this fall); it will begin with the class of 2017, those who will be applying starting fall 2016.
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The online system includes several tools aimed to get students started on their applications earlier and to create a portfolio of their work. Their high-school teachers and counselors can provide feedback and editing through the system, and students will be linked to college officials who can answer questions.
“The college-admission process today can be stress-inducing and we know it can present barriers for all students, especially for those who are the first in their family to attend college,” Zina Evans, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Florida, said in a news release.
A federal study in 2002 found that 39 percent of students don’t apply to any four-year colleges, and among those who do, 31 percent applied to only one. Other research has found that many high-performing students from low-income athletes don’t apply to college.
For years, education experts have sought answers. More than 600 colleges now accept the standardized Common Application, and many colleges offer waivers of fee applications (UW does not).