Johns Hopkins joins more than 80 other schools in effort to improve college admissions process

Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success aims to make it easier for high school students to apply to college, research options

Johns Hopkins and more than 80 other schools have agreed to develop a free platform of online tools, including a new online application, that will help students plan for and apply to college and especially aid those with limited resources.

The goal of the group, the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, is to make it easier not only for high school students to apply to college but also to research their options, learn about admissions and financial aid procedures, and prepare for the actual application.

The initial version of the planning tools will be online and available to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school beginning in January. Later in 2016, many coalition schools will begin accepting applications through the portal for freshman classes that will enroll in the fall of 2017.

The coalition said it hopes to recast the college admission process from something that is purely transactional and limited to the junior and senior years into an experience that is more engaging and allows students to begin planning and researching earlier in high school.

It also hopes to encourage students of all backgrounds to view college as a realistic goal, said David Phillips, vice provost for admissions and financial aid at Johns Hopkins. That is particularly true for those from low-income families or underrepresented groups who have historically had less access to leading colleges and universities.

"These are goals that we care about at Johns Hopkins," Phillips said. "Over the past five years, we've increased financial aid grants by 38 percent, continued to build programs like Baltimore Scholars, and endeavored to ensure that economic circumstances don't hold back superb students for whom Johns Hopkins is the right choice.

"The coalition represents an important next step," Phillips added. "As a partnership of like-minded colleges and universities, we're creating tools that the best and most talented students—particularly those from lower-income families, first-generation students, and those with fewer resources—can use to find, apply to and enroll at the schools that are right for them."

A student will be able to use the platform to compile a digital portfolio documenting high school achievements and will be able to communicate with admissions offices to learn more and clear up questions.

"Starting to think about college earlier reduces some of the pressure of the application process, but more importantly, it sets the expectation that students should aspire to attend college," said Seth Allen, vice president and dean of admissions at Pomona College, a member of the coalition governing board and a former Johns Hopkins admissions officer. "There are so many talented students who should aim for a great school, but they often don't understand the path to get there."

The coalition includes more than 80 public and private U.S. universities and colleges, all of which have made a commitment to make college affordable and accessible for students from diverse backgrounds and to assist students in completing their educations.

The coalition's public members offer affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents; its private colleges and universities provide sufficient financial aid to meet the full demonstrated financial need of every domestic student. Coalition schools graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years, and many have much higher graduation rates. New members are being added.

"The college admission process today can be stress-inducing, and we know it can present barriers for all students, especially for those who are the first in their family to attend college," said Zina L. Evans, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Florida.

Added Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University: "The schools in the coalition have individually tried many different and creative approaches to address these challenges. We have come to the conclusion that we can have a much bigger impact on student access and completion if we work together."

The coalition will announce details about the planning and application tools later this year. The coalition application will provide a new option for students, but Johns Hopkins will continue to accept the Common Application and Universal College Application.

Coalition Member Institutions

  • Amherst College
  • Bates College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brown University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carleton College
  • Clemson University
  • Colby College
  • Colgate University
  • College of Holy Cross
  • College of William & Mary
  • Colorado College
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Davidson College
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Grinnell College
  • Hamilton College
  • Harvard University
  • Haverford College
  • Illinois State University
  • Indiana University - Bloomington
  • James Madison University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Miami University - Ohio
  • Michigan State University
  • Middlebury College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Purdue University
  • Reed College
  • Rice University
  • Rutgers University - New Brunswick
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • St Olaf College
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York - College at Geneseo
  • State University of New York - University at Buffalo
  • Swarthmore College
  • Texas A&M University
  • Tufts University
  • Union College
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Florida
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Maryland - College Park
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
  • University of Missouri
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Rochester
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Yale University