Most students applying to college apply to multiple schools, and keeping track of those applications can get complicated. The Common Application and the Coalition Application are two college application platforms that streamline the process.
Both platforms allow students to gather their information in one place and send it to multiple schools. This information includes high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, college essays, and standardized test scores. Both offer access to schools’ specific application requirements, such as supplemental essay prompts. Both are user-friendly. So, what’s the difference between the Common App and the Coalition App, and why should you choose one over the other when applying to college?
The Common Application
The Common Application got its start in 1975, when a handful of private colleges opted to make applicant’s lives easier by creating a single application form that students could photocopy and send in the mail to each college. The platform went online in 1998 and incorporated into a nonprofit organization. The application quickly grew to include both public and private universities in the United States, as well as universities in Europe, Canada, Japan, and China.
As of 2022, more than 950 colleges and universities use the Common App, which is governed by a board of directors made up of high school college counselors and college admissions deans. The Common App opens on August 1st each year, allowing students to find the colleges on their list, read each institution’s application requirements, and upload their materials all in one place. The platform supports first-time college applicants and students looking to transfer colleges.
The Coalition Application
The Coalition Application, which also opens on August 1st each year, is a much newer development. The Coalition app was created in 2015 by The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, a nonprofit organization focused on increasing college access for “historically underrepresented students applying to college,” according to their mission statement.
About 150 public and private colleges in the US use the Coalition application, including many that also use the Common App. In order to join the Coalition, member institutions must meet certain criteria, such as a six-year graduation rate of at least 70%. One of the Coalition’s goals is to help ensure that students who successfully apply to college complete their education and graduate.
The Coalition App also offers students the ability to start a portfolio on the platform as early as ninth grade and provides tools to help users plan for college throughout their high school career. “Guidance Resources” on the Coalition site geared toward freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors contain vital information about topics like college fit, extracurricular activities, and financial aid. In addition, qualifying students using the Coalition App can waive application fees using a single form, rather than applying for fee waivers for each individual school.
When it comes time to apply, which application platform should you choose? In many cases, it may be six of one, half a dozen of the other, especially if you are applying to schools that use both platforms. It should be noted that many schools also have their own proprietary applications on their websites. Colleges are required to give equal consideration to applications received through their own application systems and through application platforms.
If you or your family can benefit from what the Coalition App has to offer – early access to college planning, streamlined application fee waivers, resources focused on success in college – then the Coalition App may be for you.
If you are a first-time applicant looking for an easy way to access applications for nearly a thousand colleges, or if you’re looking to transfer schools, the Common App can be a good way to go. Taking some time to explore the features of each platform is a great way to see which one will work for you.