As if college admissions weren’t confusing enough, we now have the Common App, the Coalition App, the Universal College App or a university’s unique application. “Which one should I use? What’s the difference? Does it matter to the colleges?” you ask.
Let’s answer that last question first: The answer is no: If a college accepts applications from different sources, it will not make a difference to them which one you use. Make sure you follow instructions and fill it out properly and your application will get the same amount of consideration any other application gets. *However, your high school may have preference on which one you use (more on that below).*
The differences in the applications? These are minor and have more to do with how your high school and the universities communicate electronically than anything else. As an applicant you may feel that one of the applications is easier to use that the other, but depending on the university you are applying to, you may not have a choice. I think all three of the application platforms are pretty easy to use.
So which one DO you use? Well, it depends!
- Are you applying to the University of Florida or the University of Washington (Seattle)? You have to go with the COALITION App. It is the only platform you can use for these 2 universities (at the time of this writing).
- Does your high school use Naviance or Family Connection? COMMON App is the best choice. Naviance and the Common App talk to each other electronically and provide ways for your school to send transcripts and recommendations easily.
- If your high school does not have Naviance or Family Connection (you would know if it does), you can use any of the applications if a college accepts them all.
- Check each college’s website for complete application instructions.
- Check with your high school counselor for their preferred application platform.
- The Common App is accepted at over 700 colleges, while theCoalition App is accepted at 56 colleges and the Universal App is accepted at 40 colleges. Many colleges don’t accept any of these and have their own applications.