New Year’s Plans: College Admission Reform Just Beginning

Opposition to the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success as well as support for reforming the college admission process itself has grown and continues to grow. The Coalition’s ill-conceived, poorly thought out, and contemptuously announced (“You’ll use it and like it!” seems to have been the attitude) new application program has created a good deal of anger and frustration among college counselors, who were not consulted about the program and who have to deal with the inevitable fallout should it be brought “online.” Significantly, the Coalition has already delayed  the start of the program by several months.


The Coalition’s approach to the college application.

Opposition to the Coalition has brought into clearer focus many of the problems that surround the current college application system in the U.S., especially regarding so-called “elite” institutions. Undue complexity, unnecessary anxiety, and a host of other issues plague college admission; unfortunately, the victims-students, families, counselors, and schools- are often blamed for the “frenzy” that accompanies it. The colleges’ contributions to that condition are seldom considered, and the counselors who have to deal with the fallout do not have a real voice. That being said, 804 individuals have joined the Facebook group, Counselors Against Needless Complexity in College Admission, and 148 have signed the petition opposing the Coalition’s changes.

I and several counselors have been discussing ways to make things better. We have developed a Call for Reform that will serve as a basis for discussion, research, and action on the issues within and surrounding college admission that make it so impermeable. We recognize that it’s a system, not one thing, we have to address, and we look forward to providing some positive insights and solutions in the new year.

Recently, featured me in two columns, which I link to here and here. [Full disclosure: Chris Teare and I are fellow alumni of Amherst College.] You can get an idea of where we’re interested in doing from these. Nancy Griesemer at also referred to our efforts here as well as to other aspects of the controversy that may interest those concerned with college admission. Please take a look.


Our small group hopes to grow and present workable solutions to the problems we see in the college admission process. We recognize that it is a much more complex issue than admission to college; it touches on personal, social, cultural, and economic aspirations of all parties. While we can’t tackle all of these elements, we do hope to raise enough awareness to make changes so that going to college is less an ordeal than a healthy transition.

About Will Dix

I am currently writing a book about college admission. I'm interested in the intersection of the college process and American culture. I attended Amherst College in the 1970s, taught high school English and theater at The Hill School in the '80s, returned to Amherst in the '90s as an admission dean, and began the '00s as a college counselor at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I then joined Chicago Scholars as Program Director. Currently, I help community organizations serving low income students understand the college admission process so more students can consider gaining access to higher education. I have a few private college counseling clients that I take by referral only. I also blog for on college admission issues that affect students and families. The views expressed in this blog are mine alone.
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