The Universal College Application (UCA) goes live today for 2014-15, with an upgraded website and five additional member colleges.
Joining recent additions to the UCA roster, which now includes the University of Chicago, Brandeis and Duke in addition to Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Princeton, are Agnes Scott College, American University, Rice University, Utica College, and Vanderbilt University.
“Rice University is pleased to announce our decision to become a member of the Universal College Application,” said Julie M. Browning, Dean for Undergraduate Enrollment at Rice University. “We believe that the expanded access and ease of use of the Universal College Application will be beneficial to many students, counselors, and teachers involved in the college search process.”
And this year’s application goes a step further by offering more resources than ever.
Rather than seeking feedback from “select” communities of users, the UCA provided a beta test site for any counselor—school based or independent—to explore the software and make recommendations for improvement. In addition, a survey was circulated to the entire admissions community for input on how to make the application more user-friendly particularly for low-income and/or first generation students.
As a result, changes were made to the website in ways designed to make the process of applying to college easier and much more accessible.
For example, knowing that not everyone has access to the internet 24/7, the UCA added lots of print buttons with downloadable materials and explanations, including clearly stated requirements and deadlines. The materials can be printed for hardcopy files or moved to virtual folders to help students keep track of what colleges want when.
The UCA has also added several new college search functions to make it easier to find colleges based on location and majors. These additions are works-in-progress, but applicants can expect to find an increasingly more robust search engine based on data colleges provide to the UCA.
And for applicants who need a little reminding, the UCA has introduced a new feature linking deadlines to online calendars. Simply search for UCA colleges on your list and click on the appropriate deadline—Early Action (EA), Early Decision (ED) or Regular Decision (RD)—to generate a reminder.
While making small adjustments to the application form—the suggested word limit for the personal statement has been increased to 650—features that differentiate the UCA from other application products remain part of the attraction for member institutions and applicants.
“Applicants can choose to upload an essay instead of typing it online. They can upload Additional Information, whether it’s a resume or something else they feel is essential to promoting themselves to the colleges. They can easily edit their application if they wish to submit different information to different colleges, such as an essay or major,” said Brian Ejsmont, head of Product Development for the UCA. “The applicant can choose to do what is best for them.”
And applicants are free to start submitting forms as early as July 1—getting a solid start before August sports and marching band take over.
The UCA will be uploading essay supplements as they receive them over the next few weeks from member colleges. A number are already available including prompts for the University of Chicago, Goucher College, and Emerson.
For more information and an introduction to the Universal College Application, visit the UCA website. And watch for new colleges as they are added to the membership list throughout the summer.