He was in college admission for a whole week. On Monday, we learned that the US Supreme Court will hear appeals against affirmative action and the use of race-conscious admissions practices. On Tuesday, the College Board announced its plans to take the SAT online, along with a series of other changes. A quick web search will turn up more articles and opinions on these issues than you might have time to unpack. Today, Scoir, “a mission-driven college admissions network,” announced a partnership with higher education customer relationship management (CRM) platform Slate by Technolutions and the Coalition for College, a membership organization “committed to university a reality for all high school students through its suite of free online college planning tools that help them learn about, prepare for, and apply to college.” Starting this summer, he hopes this trifecta of college admissions will transform the application process while creating more access and equity in college admissions.
The past two years have clearly caused major disruptions in our world that have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in our society. Higher education is not immune to these changes. The pandemic had a significant impact on college enrollment, bringing serious challenges, but also a window of opportunity. Overall, college enrollment is declining, but applications are increasing, especially at select schools. We are seeing a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, both in faculty and students. The ways in which students research, attend, interact with the university and apply to college are changing. Much of our national conversation has revolved around “building back better.” So how do we go about it in college admissions?
Last week, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) released a new report “Towards a new fair future for post-secondary access”. The director general of NACAC, Angel Pérez, explains that the report calls for a “fundamental overhaul of the entire admissions process” and adds that “the current system was not built for the students who enter our university doors today. In fact, some of these systems were built to do the exact opposite – to exclude.” Pérez points out that this is a crucial moment in the field of acceptance. He says, “The global pandemic, racial profiling, the decline of standardized testing, and a possible Supreme Court ruling reinforce the idea that it’s time to transform the system for today’s students.” Regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Pérez assures that the admissions profession will continue to “serve students of all backgrounds and stand up for the principles of equality and justice” and that NACAC and its partners will “be at the forefront of upcoming changes and is committed to advancing the college admissions profession .”
Evolve is what this new partnership between Scoir, the Coalition for College and Slate hopes to do. Gerry McCrory, founder and CEO of Scoir, explains, “This integration will further our mission to expand access to college and improve student outcomes.” He says, “By joining forces with Slate and the Coalition for College, we’re reimagining how students apply to college. This student-centered application method will help underserved students find and apply to affordable colleges that have experience in supporting students through matriculation.”
How will they do it? By creating a one-stop shop for college searches and applications. While the actual platform is still in development, it will bring together the best of what each of these organizations do to simplify the experience for students and those who support them. In a presentation of the concept earlier this week, McCrory and head of eXperience, Matthew Pitone, highlighted a seamless process where students will essentially start their application from the very beginning of their college search, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel every step of the way. In the coming weeks and months, they want to bring everyone involved in the enrollment experience to build an integrated network that’s not just a new application, but a new and improved process for getting into college.
For the past year, I’ve been hosting free live webinars for students, parents, and counselors for the College Guidance Network (CGN). My guests were college admissions leaders and national experts on education and parenting. As attendees poured in from across the country and world to answer their questions directly, I was reminded of how complex and nuanced the college admissions experience can be. A lot of noise surrounds the college application process, and families are hungry for reliable information. It’s hard to make sense of it all, especially for those who don’t have access to support. CGN supports schools by providing these resources so counselors can focus on the important work of protecting students through this experience.
What CGN is doing for content is exactly what the Scoir/Coalition/Slate partnership is all about for the app. Stacey Kostell, Executive Director of the Coalition for College says, “Since the coalition was founded, we have worked not only to improve the college application experience for underserved students, but also to support students throughout the admissions process,” adding, “The partnership with a mission-aligned organization like Scoir will help us continue to enhance this work and strengthen our support for students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education.” Elena D. Hicks, Dean of Admissions and Executive Director of Enrollment Services at Southern Methodist University (SMU), is the Vice President of the Board of Trustees at the Coalition for College. She writes: “What I have confirmed, especially in the last two years, is that we owe our students even greater access and simplicity in their college search. It should not be burdensome for students to manage the process for further education. The coalition focuses on helping students “start early, stress less.” Hicks adds: “I am thrilled that the coalition with Scoir is building an even greater community of inclusion and access. Through our shared mission, we will expand our reach to students, especially those who come from under-resourced communities or those who face limited income.”
Michael Steidel is the Dean of Admissions at Carnegie Mellon University. He says, “It’s clear that influential events in the national landscape have escalated the rate of change for those of us involved in the college admissions process. Students, as well as college admissions professionals and college counselors, have had to adapt to rapid changes that would normally take much longer to implement. The COVID pandemic has brought about significant and far-reaching changes in college admissions.” He adds, “The Black Lives Matter movement has also moved the needle in exposing institutional policies and practices that have prevented equity, inclusion, and protected advantages and privileges in the admissions process to college. Conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion are happening on many fronts on college campuses, and there is new energy in efforts to better understand achievement in context and appropriate measures of success.” Steidel points out that “technological changes are also shaping the nature of the college admissions process and new alliances , such as the Common Application and Reach Higher and the Coalition Application, Slate and Scoir, make the college application more accessible and streamlined for underserved, historically marginalized, and first-generation students.”
Director of Veterans Admissions, Jim Rawlins, says, “This upcoming partnership has great potential to help students and professionals—including early outreach and promotion, and providing efficiencies for students, institutions, and college counselors.” He points out: “What is particularly interesting to me is that Scoir has built its model in a way that carefully preserves the student’s privacy at all levels. This high ethical standard will need to remain firmly in place as the new partnership accelerates; students and their advisors need to know that their information is being conveyed in a transparent and simple way that they can fully control and easily understand. Finally, given Scoir’s commitment to serving Title I schools, I am excited that this initiative could help the students we all strive to do better.”
So what does this change mean for school counselors? Stacey Cunitz is the Director of Faculty Advising at the Crefeld School. He writes, “The coalition application has always seemed at odds with the stated goal of increasing college access for disadvantaged students. With this new integration with Scoir, I think she finally has a chance to achieve her goals.” She is particularly excited about the ways in which this integration will provide underprivileged students with direct access to community organizations that can support them.
Chris White is the director of faculty advising at the High Tech High Network, a public charter school serving 2,500 high school students in Southern California. He says, “The integration between Scoir, Slate and The Coalition for College has created a platform that will change the way high school students share their story with colleges. This innovative approach of students communicating their academic progress and extracurricular achievements to colleges will remove many of the barriers and pointless frictions that currently exist in the transaction known as the college application process, which has remained relatively unchanged for decades.”
At SMU’s, Hicks points out that “school counselors are the glue that holds the admissions world together, not only for their students and families, but for all of us who support students. It’s a partnership to be cherished!” Scoir’s McCrory acknowledges this as well, knowing that counselors have a pulse on what is and isn’t working for students and schools. As he has done since Scoir’s inception, he will work with those in the trenches to better build back. And it’s not even Friday yet, so who knows what college admissions will bring tomorrow!