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Should I use the Common App or the Coalition App?

4 min readjuly 29, 2021


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Agh, the age-old question! There are so many different applications you can use to apply to college. The list 📝 below presents the pros and cons of the four most common application choices. Then we will dive into the details of which application would be best for you to use. For some people, one application is clearly "best", while others opt to apply to college through multiple applications. This depends on which colleges they are applying to, of course 🤩.

Which schools are covered by each application?

The most important consideration in choosing an application—which applications are accepted by the colleges that you want to apply to?  The links below take you to a list of the colleges which accept each application. Look through the list of colleges to find whether the schools you are interested in accept that application. Some colleges are available on multiple applications. You can apply to those schools through either application; one application service over another will not change the likelihood of admission. However, it is easier to use one service over multiple since you will not have to add your information twice!

Nationally accepted applications

  • 🌈 Common App: This is the most used application, accepted by 916 colleges. 
  • Coalition for College Application: This application covers over 150+ colleges, many of which are also covered by Common App. Coalition schools are required to meet a specific criteria for financial affordability, success rate, and access to disadvantaged students. Some of the schools covered include:
    • American University
    • Barnard College
    • Cal Tech
    • Duke University
    • Emory University
    • Franklin and Marshall College
    • Harvard University
    • Illinois University
    • Johns Hopkins University
    • Knox College
    • Loyola Marymount University
    • Michigan State University

    Region-specific 🗺 applications:

  • 🌊 CUNY (City University of New York) Application: This application covers 25 schools all over the New York City area (Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island), including:
    • CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
    • LaGuardia Community College
    • New York City College of Technology
    • Queens College
    • The City College of New York

What is the difference between Coalition and Common App requirements?

Application requirements needed for both: 

  • High school transcript
  • Extracurricular activities list
  • SAT/ACT score (unless applying test optional)
  • Parent or guardian information
  • Awards list
  • Recommendations (depends on the school that you are applying to)

Differences in application documents:

  • (Optional) Coalition Locker filled with pictures, materials, and other important documents that you would want to send to colleges

More Information:

Which college application is best?

Generally speaking, if financial aid is a priority, I would recommend Coalition. However, Common App is excellent if you want an application that many around you are using, so it may be easier for you to get help from peers and counselors. You should use CUNY or UC if you are looking to apply to specific colleges in New York or California.
Application TypeSchools CoveredProsCons
Common Application916Commonly used, so it is easier to get help from peers and mentors, You can apply to more schools through one application than other application types.
Coalition for College Application150+Schools have to meet the criteria for affordability, success, and access. You can apply to multiple colleges through this application and, while there are not as many as the common app, there are a significant amount of schools to choose from.At times, this application can be a bit slow. It has many components (like "the locker"), so it may be confusing to some people.
UC Application9You can apply to multiple UC schools from this one application.Most out-of-state students pay non-resident tuition, adding an extra $29,754 (2019-2020 year) to annual tuition. Not all schools in California are included—some state and private schools do not accept this application.
CUNY Application25There are a variety of schools that accept this application from different concentrations/majors. This application covers schools from a wide span of areas in New York City.

Can I use a combination of college apps?

Yes, absolutely! You can use a combination if some schools you are applying to are only on one application and not the other. However, this will take more work than only using one application.

What should I do if none of the applications cover the school I’m interested in?

Some schools require that you use their unique application so you will not see them listed as accepting any of these four applications. Just go to the their website to find the application process.

Is there an advantage to using one over the other?

Nope. Not at all. Colleges do not prefer one over the other. 
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