How Early Should You Submit a College Application?

Many of our students ask us how early they should submit their college applications. We always recommend the earlier you submit your college application the better. But how early you can submit hinges on the type of application you use. There are three types of college applications: the Common App, the Coalition Application, and a school’s proprietary application. Let’s dive into each to answer the question.

The Common App

The Common App is as its name implies: the most common application that students use. This application is used by over 900 colleges and counting. We find it to be the easiest application to use. If a college uses several different application formats, including the Common App, we recommend using the Common App. A new Common App is released every year on August 1st. So, for students entering college in the Fall of 2023, the Common App opens on August 1, 2022.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t work on the Common App prior to this day. Click here to read our blog on this. Rather, it means the earliest you can submit the Common App for the following fall is that date. However, some schools may not have released their school specific questions and supplemental essay topics by August 1st. Some don’t do so until the middle of August or later. So, you may have to wait a little longer before you can submit your completed Common App. This submission does not include SAT/ACT test scores, official transcript or letters of recommendation, as those are sent separately. Once you have completed the application, including the school specific questions, supplemental essays and primary essay, and you have reviewed it, had someone else review it as well, and you feel good about it, then go ahead and submit it.

The Coalition Application

There’s also the Coalition Application. While this application is similar to the Common Application, we find it much more tedious to use. If you have a choice of using the Common App or the Coalition Application, we recommend using the Common App as it is much better put together and much simpler and straightforward to use. But you may not have the option. For example, the University of Washington only uses the Coalition Application so students have no other choice (The application that UW is using is changing as of August 1 and we are awaiting the decision on this). As with the Common App, the Coalition Application has a section for general information, which you can fill out at any time. Typically, starting August 1st colleges start to release their school specific questions and supplemental essay(s). So with the Coalition Application the earliest you can submit your application is August 1st, IF those school specific application questions and supplemental essays are available.

School Specific Proprietary Applications

And then there are school specific proprietary applications. Some schools only use this type of application, whereas others offer a choice. For example, Rutgers has its own proprietary application, but they also accept the Coalition Application. If you want to use their school specific application, that typically doesn’t become available until early September. So, you’re not going to be able to submit that application any sooner. Other schools, like MIT, only use their school specific application, which usually does not become available until mid-August. In addition, the University of California system of schools has their own separate application. With these types of applications, the dates vary.


So as you can see, how early you should submit a college application really depends on the school and which application or applications they participate in. Each will become available at different times. Your submission date will also hinge on when schools release their school specific questions and supplemental essays. You can submit your application as soon as you have completed it, checked it over, and determined that it is ready to go. You don’t need to wait for SAT/ACT scores, transcripts or letters of recommendation. We always recommend the earlier submission the better.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.