College Applications

The Different Types of College Applications

Choosing a college/university be confusing and overwhelming, once you finalize your choices, the next step is to determine which applications to use. In the past, each college had their own application process. Students had to complete a separate application for every college they applied to. You can imagine how this can quickly become a tedious task that often discouraged students from applying to all the institutions they were interested in attending. Although some colleges still require the use of their own proprietary application process, students can now take advantage of various online applications that are accepted by multiple institutions. Some common questions we get include: Does it matter which application you submit? How do you know which application is the best one for the colleges you apply to? What are the rules for international students?

Each of these applications that are accepted by multiple institutions have similar components however, it is also important to note that a majority of prestigious colleges require supplemental application materials. While you are researching colleges, its is a good idea to make a record for what their specific application requirements are. If you are applying to a college with multiple application choices, choose the one that provides the best means of showcasing your skills and relevant experiences to the college. This means that you will need to start familiarizing yourself with the different types of applications as early as possible.

Applications Accepted by Multiple Institutions

The Common Application

    The Common application was first introduced in 1975 as an undergraduate college admissions application aiming to reduce the redundancies encountered when applying to multiple colleges. Students has the ability to send just one application to any college of their choosing that is a member of the Common application process. The common application has since been slowly growing in popularity among academic institutions till date where there are nearly 700 member colleges. Like other types of applications, the common application consists of several components that includes, the college essay, recommendation letters, an extracurricular activities & relevant experiences list, optional supplemental questions, standardized test scores, as well as transcripts. It is an online application that offers students the capability to complete and edit their application before submitting it to multiple member colleges. Learn more about the Common application.

    The Coalition Application

      The Coalition application was introduced much more recently and already has around 90 member colleges. Among them, the University of Florida, the University of Maryland-College Park, and the University of Washington-Seattle only accepts the Coalition application. This is the only application that requires member institutions to meet a set of standards that includes a graduation rate of >70% in six years (a minimum of 7 out of 10 incoming students will graduate in 6 years), and availability of need-based financial aid. The goal of this application is avail a platform for students to: 1) apply to the highest quality academic institutions in the US, and 2) organize their applications materials as early as possible. Many of the colleges that accept the coalition application will also accept the Common application. Learn more about the Coalition application.

      The Universal Application

        The Universal application, is not as commonly used and has about 34 member colleges. The Universal application has fewer requirements for their member colleges, the principal of which is accreditation and uphold the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s guidelines. Similar to the Common and the Coalition applications, students only need to complete the application once and use the same application for any of the participating colleges. Many of the colleges that accept the Universal Application will also accept the Common application. Learn more about the Universal application.

        System-Shared Applications

          Some state college systems share a general application that students can submit to all the colleges within the state system. The State University of New York (SUNY) and the University of California are examples of this type of application. Students can apply to multiple schools within the colleges’ system using one application. If a student stays within this system of colleges, it makes sense to use this application type. However, if a student is applying to more colleges outside the system, they would most likely use the Common application. Please visit the site for California and Texas systems for more information.

          College-Specific Applications

            Some colleges, especially the ones that are private, require an application process that is specific to their institution. Colleges and universities that sign on to use the Common Application commit to a non-discriminatory policy regarding how they view the Common, Coalition & Universal applications compared to their own. There is no difference between using a school’s own application versus the any other type of accepted application method. Many institutions, however, do have supplements to the Common, Coalition & Universal applications, typically a question or essay that allows you to indicate why you are applying to that particular college.
            AcadUSA will guide you through, not only the selection of colleges that fit your needs, but determine which application(s) are most prudent for you to advertise your skills and abilities.


            The Types of College Application Options

            Regular Admissions

              This is the most common option for four-year colleges and universities. All students must submit their applications by a specific date, usually between November and January. The admissions board then reviews all the applications and sends out acceptances and rejection letters on the same date.

              Rolling Admissions

                Common at large state universities, schools that provide rolling admissions allow students to apply at any time during their admissions period; typically, September through July. The school then evaluates each college application as it’s received and sends acceptance letters to students who meet their requirements. Since admission is granted on a first-come, first-serve basis, you’ll want to submit your application as early as possible.

                Open Admissions

                  Typically, community colleges, online schools and distance learning programs offer this type of enrollment. Open admission means that nearly all high school graduates are admitted, provided they have a diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Students who have a lower than average GPA in their high school courses may want to find a college with this policy. If there is no community college in your area that matches your interests, online schools are a great alternative for furthering your education.


                  Early Admissions Options

                  Early Decision

                    With Early Decision, applications are submitted around November and usually decisions are available by December. Though Early Decision deadlines have a similar timeline to Early Action (see below), it has one significant difference: they are binding. In other words, by applying to an institutions through the Early Decision process (you can only apply to one college for Early Decision), you are obligated to enroll if your application is considered favorably for admission. If accepted, you must therefore retract any applications to any other colleges Early Decision applicants need to be 100% sure the college is the one for you.

                    Early Action

                      Early Action applications are exactly the same as Early Decision, except, you are not bound to attend the college upon acceptance. With Early Action, you also submit your application around November and usually get your decision by December. You can still apply to other institutions. Some colleges also split these deadlines, with an “Early Action I” falling a few weeks before “Early Action II” (but still before Regular Decision deadlines).

                      Please keep in mind early admissions options are not always available to international students.