New coalition on college admissions won't include Augustana

Augustana will not be a part of a new coalition, calling themselves the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, that has formed an alternative application process, including online portfolios for the admittance of students, because of criticisms of who the group is actually helping.
The group is made up of more than 80 public and private universities and colleges, including all 8 ivy league schools, and made themselves known to the public just last week.
This group was developed as an alternative to the Common Application as a way to improve the acceptance of students from low income families. It would include having online tools where students can submit their work, in which colleges, teachers, and counselors can all view and provide feedback as early as in the ninth grade. Augustana already uses the Common Application, along with other alternative means in its admissions process, said Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning W. Kent Barnds through an email.
Some of the requirements to be a part of the group include a graduation rate of at least 70 percent within six years, as it states on the coalition’s website. For private institutions, there is another hurdle, which requires having “a commitment to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of admitted students.” Augustana is not able to meet the requirement due to the number of students admitted to the school exceeding the amount of financial aid the school can give. The amount of financial assistance given out for the 2014-15 school year was an estimated 51.7 percent, according to the dashboard of indicators from the Augustana website.
“We were not invited to participate because we are not selective enough, nor do we have the resource to meet 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need,” said Barnds.
Including the Common Application, Augustana uses alternative means in the application process, such as test scores, interviews, along with the grades and class rank from high school, in its consideration in for acceptance.
Much of the criticism that comes from the group is its failure to stand by what it meant for, which is the improvement of the admittance of students from low income families. As expected from such a coalition, it is students coming from wealthy backgrounds and are knowledgeable about the college process that have been taking advantage of the benefits. Most low-income students are unaware of the resources available to them, and Barnds has said that most of the effort has been demonstrated by those students and families who are already well informed about the college process.
“It’s kind of a limited group…it’s too early to tell how the coalition is or is not going to change the game, but I don’t anticipate that Augustana would ever become a part of it,” said Karen Dahlstrom, senior associate director of admissions.
Dahlstrom can see this coalition hurting students more than helping them, as it “complicates the process more to students who are already overwhelmed by the college process.” Dahlstrom understands how the college search is a stressful time for many students, and having this online tool at such an early age would be overwhelming to a high school student so early in their school years.
Even though it announced its debut on Sept. 28, the coalition will be implementing its ideals as early as January.
There are other means in which Augustana plans to improve the admissions process without needing to join such a coalition, as Barnds said how “in the near future, we are also likely to partner with a company called ZeeMee to enable students to share video and an online resume.”