The University has joined a diverse coalition of public and private colleges and universities that is coming together to try to improve the college admission application process with a particular focus on minority groups and students from low-income families.
The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, which includes all the Ivy League schools and several public flagship universities, is developing a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of planning for and applying to college for all students.
The coalition currently includes more than 80 public and private universities and colleges across the U.S. that have made a commitment to make college affordable and accessible for students from diverse backgrounds. The group, which continues to add members, will be working over the next few months to develop tools and processes that are intended to address many of the barriers that prevent students from attending college or successfully earning a degree.
Research has found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggling with financial aid applications and often not receiving all the financial aid to which they are entitled. As a result, even the most highly qualified students either skip college, attend a college that does not engage their full potential or fail to complete their degrees. Attending a high school with a college-going culture has been found to greatly increase students’ college success.
The coalition aims to address these findings through free online tools and increased transparency around admissions and financial aid. Later this year, it will share details about new college planning and application tools that will streamline the admissions and financial aid process and allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years.
The online tools — which will include a digital portfolio, a collaboration platform and an application portal — seek to reshape the process of applying to college, reducing the unfamiliarity of the application and leveling the playing field for all students.
Members of the coalition include a diverse group of public universities, each of which have affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents, and private colleges and universities that provide sufficient financial aid to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit. Coalition schools graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years, with many having much higher graduation rates.
The coalition’s online portfolio will be open to high school students starting in January, and many of the coalition schools will begin accepting applications through the portal next summer.
In creating this platform, UNC and its partner institutions, which include Duke and N.C. State, plan to transform the college admission process from something that is transactional and limited into a more engaged, ongoing and educationally reaffirming experience. They also strive to motivate a stronger college-going mindset among students of all backgrounds, especially those from low-income families or underrepresented groups who have historically had less access to leading colleges and universities.
“We are very pleased to be part of this collaborative effort to make applying to top colleges and universities easier for great students from all backgrounds,” said Steve Farmer, UNC’s vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “We look forward to working with others in the coalition to test these new tools and refine them as necessary. Through the Carolina College Advising Corps — which places recent UNC-Chapel Hill graduates in 65 high schools that serve many low-income and first-generation students — we think we’re well positioned to help.”