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Stanford University to offer new online application in 2016

Coalition of colleges, universities teams up to redesign college application process

Stanford University is one of 83 colleges and universities that will launch in 2016 a new application process geared toward increasing access and decreasing cost for high school students, particularly those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Stanford is now part of a new group of public and private higher-education institutions called the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, which developed the new application. Coalition members range from Stanford – which had a 5 percent acceptance rate in 2014 – Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College and Harvard University to the California Institute of Technology, Reed College, University of Chicago, University of Michigan and more. Fifty-two private universities and 31 public schools are currently part of the coalition.

The "Coalition Application," which will open to students in July 2016, features a new, "intuitive" interface that will allow students to use laptops, tablets and mobile devices to fill out the application, according to a university press release. Transfer students will also have access to the full system of tools to prepare their applications, according to the coalition.

Stanford will accept the Coalition Application along with the often-used Common Application for students applying for fall 2017 admission.

The new application also features a free platform that allows students to start building an online portfolio for their college application as early as ninth grade. Students can upload writing, videos, artwork and other projects throughout their high school career on the platform. It will also facilitate early communication between coalition schools and prospective students by allowing students and counselors to contact partners at coalition schools.

The coalition describes the portfolio as a "meeting place" where counselors, teachers and mentors can "support the student's college search and application through feedback and editing."

High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors will have access to the portfolio and collaboration website starting in January.

The coalition hopes that getting students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, to start thinking about college earlier will reduce some of the increasingly intense pressure senior year, and also set a college-bound mindset early on.

"The fact that some highly motivated and well prepared students do not apply to and enroll in the college they are best suited for is a persistent problem," Barbara Gill, associate vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maryland, a coalition member, stated in the Stanford release. "This coalition is working to mitigate this problem by empowering students from disadvantaged backgrounds to immediately identify a diverse set of schools that are likely to provide considerable financial support and will invest in their academic success."

The coalition's website notes that a "growing amount of research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the financial aid they qualify for. As a result, even the most highly qualified students do not attend college, attend a college that does not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees."

"The Coalition is developing a platform of tools to help reduce these barriers and make progress in leveling the playing field for students from all backgrounds," the website reads.

Members of the coalition range from public universities that have affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents, and private colleges and universities, like Stanford, that provide financial aid to "meet the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit," the press release reads.

Earlier this year, Stanford expanded its financial aid program, increasing the income thresholds at which parents are not expected to contribute toward educational costs.

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success is open to new members and hopes to continue to grow its member list.

"Coalition schools offer students incredible choice in location, size, selectivity and mission, but we all share a commitment that the students we admit can afford to attend and will have a high likelihood of graduating," James G. Nondorf, vice president for enrollment at the University of Chicago, stated in Stanford's press release.

"That should give students confidence that college is within their reach, and that they can be successful. We hope this effort will ultimately be successful in persuading many more students to aim for college and help ensure that they are prepared to do so."

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