applying to college

The Coalition Application has not been without its critics, but one quality the team behind the application has proven over the past three years is its ability to adapt quickly.

In a presentation to high school counselors, Annie Reznik, Executive Director of the Coalition, recently announced four exciting changes to the platform. As someone who has worked with hundreds of students applying to college, I am thrilled about these changes. Here is a brief rundown of the top four.

  1. Improved user experience. One of the biggest criticisms of the Coalition is that, while their mission is rooted in decreasing barriers to the college application process for under-resourced students, their platform has proven very hard to use. Updates coming in July will include:
    • streamlined dashboard for school counselors
    • clearer language around who qualifies for application fee waivers
    • improved language in the self-reported academic record section
  1. Main essay parameters will become standardized. Again, the Coalition App was intended as a student-friendly application platform, but the “main” essay section has been anything but. Just like the Common Application, the Coalition Application has allowed colleges and universities to require a “main” essay answering one of five standardized prompts. However, admissions offices have also been allowed to choose their own word limits, resulting in students having to write and re-write the same essay. In response, the Coalition is:
    • moving the essay section into the generic (non-school specific) “Profile” section, meaning students no longer have to upload their standardized response multiple times, customizing it to each school. This also means they will be standardizing the directions and prompts.
    • removing the word limit variability. The Coalition will recommend a limit of 500-550 words, but students can submit an essay much longer. This is a great improvement, as students choosing to reuse their Common App essay (with a 650-word limit), will not need to make any changes.
  1. Member-specific essays will be visible in advance. Many Coalition schools require students to write additional, school-specific essays on top of the main Coalition essay. These essays “live” in the member-specific questions section of the Coalition application, where a college can customize any number of questions they want answered. In the past, a student could not view the essay prompts until they had answered every single question in this section—a huge inconvenience for students tying to either work on their essays in advance or strategize and reuse essays written for other schools. In the 2019-20 cycle, the Coalition will be creating updates such that:
    • students will be able to preview and/or see a demo of each app, so that all member-specific questions can be seen in advance, including essays.
  1. SAT and SAT Subject Scores can be sent directly from the application platform. The Coalition is introducing a feature they are calling “Score Send.” Directly from the Coalition application, applicants have the option to link their College Board accounts and order their scores to be sent directly to their colleges. The scores will be official, coming straight from the College Board. The Coalition hopes to eventually expand this to other testing agencies—mainly the ACT.

Please note: While these changes are currently live only in the “demo” version of the application, they will become official on July 1 for all students and users.

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Written by Abigail Anderson
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Abigail received her bachelor’s in sociology from Colby College. Prior to joining College Coach, Abigail worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College and Emma Willard School.