Free platform to simplify, diversify  admissions

By Audrey Davis, News Editor

Starting in the fall of 2018, Miami University plans to utilize a second application for high school students. The Coalition Application for Access, Affordability and Success is a free platform of online tools to help with the college application experience. Miami currently uses the Common Application and has no plans to get rid of it.

Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Admission Susan Schaurer said she doesn’t want people to think that they will need to choose one application over the other.

“Just like we accept ACT and SAT, and have no preference for one over the other, so will be our approach to Common App or Coalition Application,” Schaurer said.

Schaurer said the advantage of the Coalition Application is that it will be entirely free for counselors, community-based organizations, and students to use.

For example, if a student is working with a community-based organization that doesn’t have the funds to buy a savvy college application software tool, the Coalition Application will allow them to easily upload transcripts and other materials.

Applications such as the Common Application and the Coalition Application simplify the process of applying to schools and make it significantly easier for students to apply to multiple institutions.

An article published by The New York Times on April 11 read, “Admissions experts point to a trend called application inflation. Students are sending off more applications than ever. In 1990, just nine percent of students applied to seven or more schools, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. By 2013, that group had grown to 32 percent.”

First-year Elise Kramer applied to 10 schools that use the Common Application, and two more who do not, without a second thought.

“I’m a really indecisive person, and I thought it would be better to apply to more than wish I applied them,” said Kramer. “There’s no way I would have applied to that many schools if I didn’t have the Common App.”

Kramer said it was awful having to redo applications for the two schools she applied to that didn’t use the Common App.

“What has happened with students applying to more schools is that there’s a genuine interest in more schools,” said Schaurer. “Whereas students 15 or 20 years ago may have truly only been interested in one or two schools, it is not uncommon today for students to be genuinely interested in six or seven schools, and so it is a much more competitive landscape than ever before.”

Schaurer said that application inflation is a phenomenon that many institutions across America have experienced as they’ve seen a growth in application numbers.

“Hopefully, schools are intent on not just application numbers, but [on] recruiting the right types of students,” Schaurer said. “That certainly has been what Miami has done over the years.”

Schaurer added that as Miami has seen its number of applications grow, they’ve also seen the quality of applications improve.

Though institutions have the option to purchase names of students from ACT or SAT, Schaurer said that Miami is not just buying the contact information of every student out there. They are only looking for academically ambitious students.

“You can buy students who have an interest in becoming a cosmetologist or construction management, and we’re actually pretty intentional about not recruiting students who may have a major that’s not even offered here,” said Schauer. “We have become more selective over time, but that hasn’t been the ultimate goal. We didn’t seek to increase applications only so we could decrease the number of students we admit.”

Last year, Miami admitted a record number of students, but Schaurer said the goal was only [to admit] around 3,600 students. This year the goal has increased by 50 students, but typically, the university tries to admit between 3,600 and 3,700 students.

In an email to The Miami Student, Schaurer said that Miami has greatly increased its recruitment efforts over the last several years. As a result, Miami saw a 75 percent increase in applications  this year compared to applications received in the fall of 2010.

In 2010, Miami received a total of 16,958 applications for fall admission, and, to date, Miami has received 29,754 applications for the fall of 2016. Efforts contributing to this increase include the placement of admission staff throughout the United States, increasing the numbers of high school visits conducted annually and hosting more on-campus visitors than ever before. In 2014-2015, the admissions office hosted more than 41,000 visitors through its programs compared to less than 30,000 in 2008-2009.

“We know that we have to be more competitive than ever because there are a lot of great schools out there, and students have many great options before them,” said Schaurer. “The Common Application is currently used by more than 500 member institutions. That in and of itself presents diversity — geographic diversity and students with diverse interests.”

One aspect of the Coalition Application that interested Miami is that it attracts students from underrepresented backgrounds, who are served by community-based organizations who use the Coalition Application.

“One of the reasons we made the decision to join the Coalition Application in addition to the Common App is that we really felt like it might be a great opportunity for us to do more outreach and become more accessible to diverse students that are of low income or students in underserved areas,” said Schaurer. “But really, the increase in diversity on campus can be attributed to the Bridges Program and the outstanding experience students have when they come to the Bridges Program. Through their interactions with faculty and staff, they really get a true glimpse at what the Miami experience is all about.”