Emily Anne Espinosa |Staff Writer|
New developments in the college application process for elite universities are raising concerns in regards to issues of fairness and adolescent stress.
The developments include a new online portal and added requirements to certain universities.
A coalition of 83 elite colleges and universities, the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, have formed a free-to-use joint online application portal that will include an online portfolio, where students will be able to store research papers, essays, projects, and other academic or art work as early as ninth grade.
UC Berkeley has announced that they want to start implementing a requirement of two letters of recommendation for their college application process, breaking tradition among the UC system.
No campus of the University of California requires letters of recommendation when the admission application is submitted, according to UC Berkeley’s admission website.
The new joint online application portal, the Coalition Application, will be an alternative to the much larger Common Application, but will include elite schools and Ivy Leagues, such as Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.
The list of all participating schools can be found on coalitionforcollegeaccess.org
However, the formation of the Coalition Application has brought upon controversy concerning having ninth graders involved in the college application process as early as 13 to 15 years old.
Both Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools and more than 100 college counselors from Jesuit high schools sent a letter to the coalition detailing serious concerns about the Coalition Application.
In the letter the Jesuit high school counselor’s stated, “Based on all adolescent development models, starting to ‘collect items’ and for parents to ‘obsess’ in the ninth grade will most likely produce significant concern/anxiety over the college process at a time when all of our students’ focus should be on the growth their personal and academic selves.”
According to the coalition, the goal of the portal is to promote elite college enrollment for students of all backgrounds, especially low-income families and under-represented groups.
The UC system functions with its own online application portal, where they don’t require letters of recommendation for general college applications.
UCLA contends that having UC Berkeley break tradition will be confusing for students.
All nine UC campuses currently use the same online application portal, and that letters could be troublesome for students from large public high schools who may not be able to get letters from their overburdened teachers and counselors, according to Larry Gordon from the LA Times.
According to Gordon, Berkeley administrators believe that the letters could aid students whose own personal statement essays did not receive additional help.
Additional help such as editing from parents or even paid consultants, or could not portray their leadership and academic potential in a way that a credible adult, such as a teacher, could in a recommendation letter.
The Coalition Application will be open summer 2016.
The Coalition Locker, the online portfolio and other tools, will be open April 2016.
UC Berkeley plans on implementing the letters of recommendation for college applications starting fall 2017.
They also plan on inviting a sample group of 20 percent to voluntarily submit two letters of recommendation for their fall 2016 applications.