When the University of Florida opened its undergraduate application cycle to prospective freshmen in August 2016, it premiered a new consortium application through the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success (mycoalition.org). Among 52 colleges and universities to accept freshman applications through the Coalition for the first time this fall, UF is the only school using the Coalition application exclusively.
A dedicated team of 14 from UF’s Office of Admissions and UFIT worked diligently over the past six months to make UF’s timely and successful debut of the Coalition application possible. According to Morgan Vollrath, assistant director for data management and systems support in Admissions, 1,000 students have applied to UF to date using the new application. This number marks an increase of 200 applications—or 25 percent—received by this time last year.
The Coalition application is one of several advances that UF is developing and implementing through the Campus-wide Modernization Program to Advance Student Services (COMPASS). COMPASS is a multi-year effort to address student system technology, and create standards and processes that unite the university, allowing UF to respond to future student needs more nimbly. COMPASS seeks to transform the experience and management of student data by staff and faculty and improve the student user experience.
How will Coalition work?
As a member of the Coalition, UF stands with more than 90 other higher education institutions across the U.S. committed to a more affordable and accessible college experience for students. As Andrea Felder, director of freshman and international admissions said, “We are pleased to join a group of both public and private universities that is committed to providing students with the best possible college experience, beginning with the college application process.” Coalition members strive to provide students and their supporters (such as parents, counselors, mentors and community-based organizations) with some important tools for a successful start to college, creating an easier, less stressful college application process. In particular, Coalition institutions aim to increase awareness among under-resourced students (low-income, underrepresented and first-generation) and remove some of the barriers traditionally confronting them.
In partnership with CollegeNET and with input from counselors, the Coalition has developed a platform of free tools and resources that are easy and intuitive for U.S. and international students to use. After setting up free Coalition accounts, students can create a profile of commonly requested personal and demographic information.
With the platform’s Locker feature, students can upload, organize and work on college essays, videos, audio files and other documents that showcase their academic records and interests. Counselors, parents and other mentors also are able to create free accounts. Through a collaboration function, students can share access to any of their private locker items with particular supporters and obtain guidance and feedback on those items prior to finalizing them for submission.
Additionally, the Coalition platform enables students to develop a list of schools in which they might be interested. Links to these institutions provide students with direct access to school websites, options for requesting additional information and the ability to submit an application for admission. Students can load their previously recorded profile into school applications and attach required files. Students then can respond to college-specific questions and pay their application fees. The Coalition expects these features to ease the application process, facilitate access to more school options and, ultimately, produce more successful application submissions.