June 18, 2019
You may have seen the announcement last yearthat beginning in July, for the first time ever, students will be able to submit their SAT scores and college applications in the same place: MyCoalition, the Coalition for College's online platform. That announcement said:
The College Board has partnered with the Coalition for College to fully integrate the process for sending SAT scores with the Coalition Application online platform. We know that the college application process is daunting and complex for even the most well-resourced students and families; this can be especially true for underrepresented students. Beginning summer 2019, students applying to college through the Coalition Application will be able to send official SAT and SAT Subject Test scores to colleges directly through MyCoalition, the Coalition's online platform. This enhancement will streamline the college application process for all students applying to Coalition institutions.
This integration represents one of many recent enhancements that make the college application process significantly easier and more transparent for all students, particularly for low-income students.
The College Board is in conversations with other application providers and large university systems to expand the availability of this new functionality to more institutions and students.
In partnership with the College Board, the Coalition is leveraging this technology to reduce complexity in the application process. As the College Board notes in its announcement, the application process can be overwhelmingly complex for the uninitiated. Of course, there are resources available that can simplify the complexities, such as my favorite source of college knowledge, College Confidential.
However, the task of managing the application process is made even more challenging by both the lead time necessary to do a thorough job and the concurrent pressures of the senior high school year. Managing AP courses, visiting colleges, gathering application information such as recommendations and transcripts, taking and sending test scores, and simply trying to “have a life" can make senior year for prospective collegians a tense, stressful experience.
This MyCoalition enhancement will eliminate a step of the college process, as students applying to colleges through MyCoalition will no longer have to log in to the College Board website separately to send each college their SAT scores. Plus, if they've been awarded a College Board fee waiver, then they can send their scores to an unlimited number of schools -- even schools that aren't members of the Coalition -- at no cost.
This is a significant change for the better. These upgraded, simplified actions will go live on July 1, less than two weeks from this writing. This marks the first time ever that students will be able to submit their SAT scores and college applications in the same place. This advantage is currently offered only through MyCoalition, not through the Common App.
Annie Reznik, executive director of the Coalition for College notes, "For us at the Coalition, it's about streamlining the college application process for students. With its fee waivers and unlimited score send feature, the College Board is helping to remove barriers for students applying to college, and that aligns with our mission to make college a reality for all students."
It appears that the “governors" of college admissions are finally realizing that it may be the complexity of the college process that is frustrating some students (and let's not forget the parents) from beginning the long road from high school to college. The smallest degree of simplification would be welcome, in my view, and the about-to-be-deployed step by the College Board is indeed a plus.
Singer thinks that the College Board, over time since its founding in 1900, introduced what he calls “... 'unnecessary complexity' to many of its programs and processes. An extra requirement here, a point scale change there and too many intentionally tricky questions on the SAT, and all of a sudden first-generation and low-income students are rethinking whether college is really in the cards for them. 'What I felt was imperative is that we boldly reduce that complexity and be an advocate for students more broadly,' Singer says." I can certainly agree with that.
Part of the problem that frustrates first-gens and students from low-income families is the number of discrete components that must be tended while applying to college. For example, take the process of sending SAT scores to colleges. Currently, students have to visit the College Board website separately to send each college their SAT scores. This fall, however, when applicants begin their processes, that step will be eliminated for many students.
The College Board has been working with the Coalition for College Access, a group of 140 colleges and universities, to let students submit their SAT scores and college applications in the same place. The situation with fee waivers is also scheduled for improvement. In case you didn't know about the process to secure fee waivers, here's the background on that:
Fee waivers allow low-income students to request that their fees — on things like college entrance exams and college admissions applications — be excused. In April 2018, a new fee waiver process was rolled out, replacing the “onerous, time-consuming process" that existed before, where students had to request a new fee waiver every time they took the SAT or applied to a new college ...
What the College Board uses now is a “virtual easy pass," Singer explains. Low-income students request a single fee waiver code that stays with them through the duration of their high school experience. The code grants a bevy of benefits, including two free SAT tests, six free subject tests, free unlimited score delivery to colleges and waived application fees to 2,000 participating colleges.
This is a major improvement. It will remove a significant roadblock and frustrations for low-income students applying to multiple colleges.
These changes signal an important trend that should provide encouragement for high schoolers and their families. Finally, the powers that be are making an effort to inject some much-needed common sense into the college application machinery. The past year or so has been a period of upheaval in higher education. The Harvard lawsuit regarding Asian discrimination and the current college admissions bribery scandal, as well as some smaller conflicts, have cast a shadow over applying to college.
The good news is that efforts are being made to counter the discord. The improvements detailed above are quite positive and I predict that they will be enthusiastically embraced. It's about time.