Over 80 Top Colleges to Use New Online Application Portal


Stanford, Yale, Caltech and 80 more colleges and universities are creating a website through which high school graduates will be able to apply to dozens of colleges at the same time. The aim is to make the process less daunting and to support low-income and minority students through the process — and to offer an alternative to the Common App.

Jeremiah Quinlan, Dean of Undergraduate admissions at Yale University, said about the joint effort:

“We have come to the conclusion that we can have a much bigger impact on student access and completion if we work together.”

The Common Application alternative developed by the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success wants to bring students and counselors together by helping kids build diverse portfolios throughout high school and apply for college easily and quickly. The new website will allow students to upload writings, artwork and other school projects to create a portfolio they can use along with their applications.

One recurring issue with college applications is that admission processes are often complex and time-consuming, which acts as a deterrent for low-income students and for those who cannot access or afford prep classes. The website hopes to streamline the process and make it more intuitive.

The free website, which is free for students, will launch in January and allow students to use it to plan their next higher education path. By the summer of 2016, many participating colleges will be ready to receive student applications for the new academic year.

The widely used Common Application is employed by more than 600 schools, but technical problems two years ago resulted in widespread student panic and led to the delays on early decision application deadlines. Criticism of the Common App being unimaginative have also grown. Stanford University Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw says the technical issues of 2013 were one of the reasons this alternative was established.

Seth Allen, Pomona College Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, highlighted that the new site will be helpful for schools with many students and limited staff:

“This is going to be quite helpful so students at an early age can start to understand what these colleges are looking for,” he said.

To join the 83 universities and colleges, schools must have at least a 70% graduation rate over the last six years. Public and private schools must also be able to offer sufficient financial aid to their students.

So far, participating schools include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Chicago, Tufts, Reed, the University of Michigan, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Purdue, the University of Washington and Ohio State.

College officials emphasized that admission criteria will not change with the new portal.