There are other types of applications that universities use such as their own specialized application, a system wide application or the latest new application called the Coalition Application. The Coalition Application was used for the 2017-18 application year and used by schools such as University of Arizona, Florida State University, University of Michigan and some Ivy League schools as well. In all, 120 universities used this form, but it is far too early to tell if more colleges will move away from the Common application to the Coalition application. There are 5 prompts for the Coalition application and they are the same from their first year. Just like with the Common application, each school that uses the Coalition application decides how many prompts that must be answered by students. In some cases, the school doesn’t require any writing sample at all. If a school requires a writing sample or essay, students can expect a 650 word limit just like the Common application. While the founders of the Coalition application had several purposes in mind when creating the application, one of the biggest goals is designed to relieve the stress of students by allowing students to build their application over 4 years instead of putting it all together their Senior year.
Another type of application would be a system-wide application like when applying to Universities of California (UC system) such as UC Berkeley or UC San Diego. In this system the student fills out one application and can use it for any of the 9 schools in the system that it wants to. Part of the UC process when you are applying is the writing portion in which there are 8 prompts and you must answer 4 out of the 8. These prompts change occasionally, but the biggest challenge is the 350 word limit! Yes, even smaller than Common or Coalition application essays, you have to get right to the point of answering, again with clean grammar, spelling and syntax. This system, however does not require a letter of recommendation.
Still another system-wide application is for the California State Universities (CSU) system. This system allows you to use 1 application for general information for all 23 campuses in the system. Once you have a general application, then you personalize applications for individual campuses. This system, however does not require any writing samples or essays or letters of recommendations. It also has a program known as the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) that looks to serve students from historically low income families or educationally disadvantaged students. This program requires a separate application and a letter of recommendation, but can be quite helpful in getting into colleges that are popular and competitive in the system.
There are also universities that simply use their own application that is set-up to meet their own school needs. Schools like the University of Oregon, University of Nebraska, Louisiana State University and University of Texas at Austin are some of the many schools that have their own application. These schools will mostly likely have their own essay prompts or writing samples that you have to submit. Many schools who use the Common or Coalition application will have what are called supplemental requirements. These requirements are extra on top of whatever general application requirements there are for the school. For example, a school may have you use the Common application, answer 2 of the Common application prompts and then in addition answer another essay prompt that is tied specifically to their school. Lastly, you should know that every university charges an application fee for applying to their school, regardless of whether or not you get into the school. The range of these application fees is anywhere $50 – $85, so be prepared for that as you plan and make your list of schools. Now most schools do offer a fee waiver, so check the university website to see if you are eligible for this waiver. So as you can see, there are many different types of applications with many different requirements and parts to them. You must do your research and make sure that you know the deadlines, requirements and fees for EACH individual school that you apply to. The application process is long and tedious, but well worth it to give yourself great opportunities for your future!