As application season approaches, students are thankful that they won’t need to fill out a new and separate application for each school to which they apply; things are stressful enough the way they are! While most colleges will have their own unique, supplementary materials to be filled out (such as short-answer questions), the primary work involved for each school’s application — provided the school is an accredited and non-profit institution — will entail the student completing either the Common application or the Coalition application, depending on which (if either) a school accepts. The basic gist of these two shared applications is similar, yet they also have some key differences; and while neither is more advantageous than the other in terms of acceptance, students should use whichever application feels better suited to them, personally.
The Common App, is the older and more well-known of these two platforms. The Coalition application is also widely accepted, but has only been available since 2015. One central difference between the two applications is that in order to offer a Coalition application option, schools must be able to prove that they offer students a substantial amount of annual financial aid with little or no debt. While many more schools offer the Common App than the Coalition, those that do offer the Coalition application are declaring themselves prepared to give aid to eligible applicants.
The Coalition application gives students more space to share and discuss daily responsibilities unrelated to academics and extracurriculars; students from busy families, where they are required to work, get a chance on the Coalition form to discuss how they may watch younger siblings, make dinner for their family, or work a part-time job. In fact, the Coalition application was created in part out of a recognition that the Common App has an inability to account for the real-life responsibilities that may cause certain students to have a less robust list of activities and achievements on their application.
The Common App, in comparison with the Coalition application, places slightly greater emphasis on the more standard extracurricular activities by allowing students to list and rank ten activities of importance (the Coalition App, in comparison, allows students to list eight, but requires them to pick two as the most important). While the submission of either application to a college or university will cost students an application fee, exploring and using either application is completely free, so students may want to browse each application’s website to get a better sense of which one they better resonate with.