Coalition Application Didn’t Function on a Key Sunday

The timing was bad for the University of Washington, which had its deadline on Monday—and only uses the Coalition app.

November 29, 2021
The Coalition logo

The Coalition for College was born, in part, out of a technology problem.

In the fall of 2013, the Common Application experienced numerous technology errors, at times leaving students unable to file applications, even as deadlines approached and passed.

Two years later, with many colleges frustrated with the Common App, the Coalition for College was born. Eighty colleges united to create the new application and portfolio platform for high school students. Many thought at the time that the Common App could be in trouble.

Fast-forward to this fall. The Common App has continued to grow. It now has 900 colleges on its list and has not suffered from major technology problems in recent years.

But the Coalition was hit by a major technology snafu Sunday. Students reported receiving error messages to every question they attempted to answer. The Coalition did not report fixing the problem until after midnight (Eastern time).

Many would think that being down for a day—while no doubt frustrating to some—wouldn't be a major problem. But the Coalition application was down the day before the University of Washington's deadline for all applicants (UW doesn't have early decision). And the University of Washington is the only one of the Coalition's 140 members to only accept applications through the Coalition.

The university on Monday extended its deadline by a day.

"I checked with our admissions director, who said the issues with the Coalition seem to be resolved. Nonetheless, we are going to extend our deadline by one day, from November 15 at 11:59 p.m. to November 16 at 11:59 p.m.," said a spokesman for the university.

The extension followed requests from high school counselors, who reported that their students completing applications to the university were experiencing stress. And Twitter provided a place for students to share their frustrations.

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One student said, "@UW [you're] gonna end up missing lots of amazing students since the coalition application has been down for hours. we cannot apply … literally."

Another wrote, "Coalition application is down. i literally cannot handle this stress. literally have a concussion and am supposed to reduce stress in my life."

Amanda Waite, director of communications for the Coalition for College, explained what happened: "Our technology vendor CollegeNET worked yesterday to address slower site speeds that were affecting users from accessing MyCoalition.org. The system stabilized around 10 p.m. Pacific Time yesterday, the 14th … I don’t have specific causes from CollegeNET that I can share at this time."

The Coalition also acknowledged the problem on Twitter on Sunday night and provided another update Monday morning: "Our technical team reports some progress in improving site speeds but continues to work on the issue. We’ve informed our member schools about this technical problem. We’ll share another update in the morning, and we apologize again for this frustrating experience."

"Our technical team worked to address the issues that prevented users from accessing MyCoalition, improving site speeds around 10 p.m. Nov. 14," the Monday tweet said. "We’ll continue to monitor the system closely today."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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