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The Common App vs. the Coalition App

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The Common App vs. the Coalition App: Which Application Should You Fill Out?

Year after year, high school students fill out applications to over two thousand public and private colleges and universities. The average high school student will fill out 8-10 college applications in their quest to be accepted to college, and filling out all of those applications can be a lot to manage. Luckily, there are two applications that allow you to apply to multiple schools all in one place – the Common Application and the Coalition Application.

What is the Common App?

The Common Application, or Common App, is the most widely filled out college application. It is also the most extensive college application, as it covers 774 colleges and universities in both the U.S. and abroad.

The Common App allows students to apply to up to 20 colleges, but they cannot simply submit the same application for each school – most colleges do require students to submit supplemental materials along with the mandatory materials of the common app.

The Common App is free to use, but some schools do require you to submit an additional fee to apply to them, ranging from $25 - $90.

What is the Coalition App?

The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is a relatively new application option for college candidates. Launched in 2016, the Coalition App is a free platform, similar to the Common App, that schools can join to offer their applications on.

The Coalition App covers many top college and universities, but not as many schools as the Common App covers. Only 132 schools are Coalition members, as opposed to the almost 800 schools that are covered by the Common App. All eight of the Ivy League colleges – Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, The University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University – are included in this application. Other prominent universities, including Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Duke University, and Johns Hopkins University, are also included in the Coalition Application, and more schools join the Coalition each year.

The main difference between the Common Application and the Coalition Application is that, as its name suggests, the latter attempts to give lower-resourced and underrepresented students a little more help. The Coalition will only accept colleges who prove that they provide substantial support (through financial aid, scholarships, or other means) to low-income or otherwise underrepresented students. Like the Common App, though, the Coalition App is free for students to use, but they must pay additional application fees for each school they apply to, per the schools’ application regulations.

Should you fill out the Common App or the Coalition App?

Most of the schools included in the Coalition App are also included in the Common App. So, what are the benefits of choosing one application over the other?

If you think that completing one application will be difficult enough and you crave the simplicity of only having to go through the process ones, then the Common App may be the best application for you. Because the Common App covers so many schools, chances are the schools you are applying to will be on this application. Enter all of your basic info once and write just one personal statement, and you’re well on your way to applying to each school on your list. Many high school students will agree that this beats having to do it all once for the Common App and then again for the Coalition App.

If your family’s financial situation is such that you will probably need significant financial aid to help pay for college, then consider the Coalition App. Again, all of the schools included in this application have proven that they provide financial aid and support to underrepresented and low-income students, and are dedicated to seeing students graduate. Therefore, if you are a student from an underrepresented background, or if you know you will be seeking financial aid, then the schools covered by the Coalition App will offer you the best chance of college success if admitted.

Remember that most schools accept at least one of these applications, but not all of them! If you plan to apply to any University of California schools or to certain small private schools, you will not be able to use the Common App or Coalition App. Always be sure to check with the schools themselves to make sure you are filling out their application correctly.

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