Have you heard of the Coalition for College? Do you know what it's all about? Before I discuss the Coalition's latest developments, let's take a look at what it does and who can benefit.
Officially named the Coalition for College Access, the Coalition's mission is "to support lower-income, under-resourced, and/or first-generation students; to provide responsible financial aid; and to bolster students' success in college — and beyond. The Coalition was founded in 2015 by a group of dedicated college leaders aiming to improve the college application process, particularly for those students from historically under-represented groups. Today, we help make college a reality for all students through MyCoalition, our set of free, online college-planning tools that helps students learn about, prepare for, and apply to college."
The Coalition is made up over of over 150 colleges that are committed to improving access to education and making college more affordable.
Simply stated, The Coalition is a diverse group of public and private colleges and universities across the U.S. working to improve college access. September appears to be when that diverse group of colleges tends to increase. Coalition membership is by invitation only to schools that meet rigorous standards in at least two of three areas of emphasis: access, affordability and success of graduates.
For example, colleges must enroll at least 20 percent of underrepresented and low-income students, and graduate students with low-to-no debt, while either meeting their full demonstrated financial need, offering low-cost in-state tuition or providing responsible financial aid packages. Or they must have a graduation rate of 70 percent or higher for low-income and underrepresented students, which is equal to or greater than the school's overall graduation rate.
For all students, whether applying to a member school or any other college, the Coalition offers students a set of free, online college planning tools, called MyCoalition, which helps them learn about, prepare for and apply to colleges. It's designed to engage students in the college application process as early as ninth grade and consists of a digital "storage locker" and interactive collaboration space.
A simple application, which is accepted by member schools, is also available through MyCoalition. It includes an optional checkbox-style question that allows students to choose the statements that describe how COVID-19 has affected their ability to engage in schoolwork, as I discussed in a previous article.
If you would like to consider applying to Coalition schools, review the current list of member institutions. They are listed on the Coalition's site and organized alphabetically, by state, and by public or private.
The 2020-2021 Coalition application's essay prompts are somewhat similar to the Common Application's. Here's a comparison. I have prefaced the Coalition's prompts with a "CC." Following each Coalition prompt, I show a Common App prompt prefaced with a "CA."
CC: 1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
CA: 1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.
CC: 2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
CA: 2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
CC: 3. Has there been a time when you've had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
CA: 3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
CC: 4. What is the hardest part of being a student now? What's the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
CA: 4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
CC: 5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
CA: 5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
The Common App offers two more prompts than does the Coalition application:
CA: 6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
CA: 7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Over 150 colleges are members of the Coalition for College, and all members accept the Coalition application. Coalition members include many prestigious colleges including Amherst, Bates, Cornell, Kenyon, Northwestern, Princeton, and the California Institute of Technology. New schools are frequently added, so for a full list of Coalition colleges, visit the Coalition for College's official list.
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