Bowdoin was among the more than 80 colleges and universities on Monday that announced the formation of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, a group of schools that will work in hopes of making the college application process easier for disadvantaged high school students.

The Coalition—which includes all eight Ivy League schools, 10 of the 11 NESCAC schools and many prominent state universities—requires that its members meet full financial need for accepted students and boast a six-year graduation rate of at least 70 percent.

Perhaps most notable in the Coalition’s press release were plans to develop a new college application that applicants will be able to work on throughout their high school careers. In accordance with its stated goal of increasing access to college education, the Coalition will aim to make the application particularly helpful to high school students who are forced to be more independent in their college searches.

“Access, to me, is the key word,” said Dean of Admissions and Student Aid Scott Meiklejohn. “I was traveling last week. I went into four different high schools where there was no counselor and I was met by parent volunteers. There are 500 students in a graduating class—how exactly are the smart students in that school being advised about college?

“If they are in an environment where there isn’t a strong college counseling function, for instance, and they don’t have a way to have that conversation at home, then something like this could give them a way to start working on it and thinking about it.”

If all goes according to plan, members of the Coalition will be able to tailor this new application to their preferences.

“One of the attractions for individual colleges is that the application will be individually suited to each college or university’s review process,” said Meiklejohn. “As the Common App has gotten bigger and bigger it’s grown from a group of fairly like-minded colleges to 600 places. The homogeneity of the app is something that constricts in ways that not all of us always value. So there’s potentially an application here that could be more individualized.”

Meiklejohn does not, however, believe that the new application will dethrone the Common App as most institutions’ go-to form, nor as one that the majority of applicants to Coalition schools will favor.

“I can imagine applicants from a lot of different backgrounds using it, but I think, initially, the vast majority of our applicants would still use the Common App,” he said. “Particularly from schools where the counseling ratio is strong and their students have been using the Common App. I have no way of forecasting what percent of our applicants would use this, but I’d think it would be small—certainly at the start.”

The Coalition’s origins date back to 2013, when a core group of admissions deans at elite institutions began discussing issues ranging from college affordability to the efficacy of the application process.

“I think that it goes back a couple of years to when the Common App had its technology meltdowns, among other things,” said Meiklejohn. “That year was something that got a group of people talking about whether all of us having what some people have called ‘a single point of failure’ was a wise thing. There have always been alternative applications, but none of them have been subscribed to by very many schools.”

Bowdoin was asked to join the Coalition this past spring when Richard Shaw, dean of admissions and financial aid at Stanford, contacted Meiklejohn. Select admissions officers in Bowdoin’s office discussed and ultimately accepted the invitation. Representatives of the College have since been active in shaping the Coalition, including Director of Admissions Whitney Soule, who is on a subcommittee tasked with developing the new application.

Meiklejohn says more work needs to be done before the Coalition is ready to deliver on its mission.

“The press release and a lot of the announcements—for better or worse—make it appear to be more of a completed project than it is,” he said. “They were trying to get as much news as possible, and they were probably successful at that. But there’s a lot of this that’s still in development.”

The Coalition will release its platform in January 2016, and the application will open in July 2016, according to the Coalition’s website.

Ultimately, Meiklejohn has high expectations for the Coalition and its goals.

“I hope it turns out to be really useful for students who are not getting access to great college advising,” said Meiklejohn. “I hope it turns out to be a fabulous and fail-proof way of applying to college. And I think those are good expectations, for starters.”