Which Application Should I Use for College?

There are three types of college applications: (1) the Common Application,better known as the Common App, (2) the Coalition Application, and (3) a college’s proprietary application. Here is a breakdown of each application type and the pros and cons of using them.

Before diving into the reasons behind my use recommendations, let me clarify that sometimes you don’t have a choice of which application to use. Why is this? For some colleges, you can use different applications to apply and others you only have one choice. It all hinges on each individual school.

Common Application -The Best College Application to Use When Possible

The beauty of this application is that there are over 800 schools that participate in the College App – and that number grows each year. It has been in existence since 1975, and it is apparent that it is continually updated so that it is as streamlined and simple as possible to use. I cannot tell you how beneficial this is and this is coming from someone who has worked with over 600 students in helping them apply to college! Hallelujah! So here’s my advice: if a school you want to apply to uses the Common App, use it! It is your best choice. Chances are pretty good that a college you are considering is a member of the Common App and I’m telling you, it is your simplest path to applying.

So, look here first to find out if the school you are applying to uses the Common App. https://www.commonapp.org/explore/. If they do, look no further. This is the application you want to use on your college admissions journey whenever possible.

Coalition Application

There are over 140 schools that are a member of the Coalition Application, see list, click here. But what you need to know is that most of the schools that use the Coalition also use the Common App. So please refer to the above summary on the Common App and heed my advice on which application to use (Hint: The Common App!). The Coalition Application is cumbersome at best, although its continuous updates inches it a bit closer to not being cumbersome, but it’s not quite there yet. Here’s the thing: there are some schools, e.g., University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, that solely use the Coalition Application. So, if you choose to apply to these schools, you have no choice but to use this application. Although unfortunate, you don’t have a choice. As I always say to my families, we only live in their world and have to follow their rules. Also, keep in mind that although the Coalition is far more cumbersome than the Common App, it’s not insurmountable. You can do it, I promise!

Proprietary Applications

For some colleges, the only way you can apply is with their own application. This is the case with MIT and the University of Alabama, at least this is the case as of the date this blog was written. So, if you want to apply to these colleges, you have no choice; you have to use their proprietary application. I’m unsure why these schools don’t use either the Coalition Application or the Common App, but again, we only live in their world and have to follow their rules.

So, the answer to the question “Which application should I use for college?” is sometimes you have a choice and sometimes you don’t. Rule of thumb: use the Common App when you can and when you can’t, know you will get through it. Everyone does each year.

We help students and families through the entire college planning journey from search, and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone and by email.