During the College Application Process, students are faced with many decisions, including where to apply, when to apply, and how to apply. Once students decide whether to apply early or regular decision, they must choose between the Common Application and the Coalition App. While many schools accept either, a number only accept one of the two applications, and a few colleges and universities – including Georgetown, MIT, and the nine University of California campuses – require separate applications.

When to Apply

  • The majority of Early Action/Early Decision deadlines are November 1st and 15th
  • Early Decision II deadlines are typically in January.
  • The most common Regular Decision deadlines are January 1st and 15th.
  • Rolling Decision is just that: rolling.

The Common Application (Common App)

The Common App is accepted by 863 colleges. You can view the full list here. The Common App goes live at the beginning of August. However, students can create an account anytime before that and roll over pertinent information.

Once students have decided on their college list, they can add those schools to the My Colleges tab. Students can also familiarize themselves with each school’s academic and standardized test requirements as well as application deadlines on the Common App website. Additionally, commonapp.org answers important FAQs on how to research schools, fill out the activities section, access supplemental essay questions, report scores, send transcripts, request teacher recommendations, and more.

Coalition for College

The Coalition for College application is used by 140-plus schools. MyCoalition provides students with:

  • a private, unlimited digital space in which they can collect and organize important materials
  • a virtual area in which students can collaborate with counselors, teachers, and family members
  • the application and a directory of valuable resources for college preparation

College Essays

A distinguishing element of the college admission application, the college essay provides a window into a student’s thinking and personality. Regardless of which application a student completes, the essay is a wonderful opportunity for students to reveal what makes them unique and more than just the sum of their GPA, class rank, standardized test scores, and “activities section.” It’s not the story of a student’s life, but rather a story from their life, told in their voice. Read our blog post, “The Art of the College Essay,” for insights on how students can approach the college essay.

Supplemental Essays

  • “You have 150 words: Take a risk.”
  • “Why us?”
  • “Would you rather win an Olympic Medal, an Academy Award, or the Nobel Peace Prize? Why?”

These are examples of the many supplemental essay prompts students may encounter. Some schools do not have a supplement; others may ask up to eight questions that range from quirky to intense, requiring 150 to 650 word responses. These supplemental essays require research, time, and thought, and are a critical part of a college application. When a college asks “Why us?” that really means: tell us precisely why the curriculum, courses, and culture at our school make it the perfect fit for you. For more information on the supplemental essays, read our blog post, “Acing the College Supplements.”