The Ultimate Coalition Application Guide: What Is It & Why Is It Important?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female student with backpack and holding books.

The Ultimate Coalition Application Guide: What Is It & Why Is It Important?

In the past, each college had its applications. This meant high schoolers would have to prepare an entirely new application for all of the schools to which they wanted to apply. Yikes! It sounds pretty rough, doesn’t it? Fortunately, there are now standardized applications that students can use to apply to hundreds upon hundreds of colleges. Coalition application schools if you want to get into the best schools.

The Common Application is by far the most well-known and commonly used of these standardized applications. It’s accepted by over 900 institutions and over three million students use it every year. That’s pretty impressive! However, the Common App isn’t the only choice students have when it comes time to send out applications.

The Coalition Application is a viable alternative and holds the spot as the second-most popular standardized application. It boasts over 150 member schools, and that number is continuing to grow each and every year.

If the college admissions process wasn’t confusing enough, now you’ve got two different applications from which to choose. How do you choose between the Common App and the Coalition App? Before rushing into the decision, it’s imperative to understand the primary differences between the applications.

Since the Common App process is more widely discussed, we’re going to focus on the Coalition App. Not many students are familiar with this alternative, let alone what it can offer. Let’s take a closer look at the Coalition App, the Coalition Application schools, and everything else you should know about this alternative.

What is the Coalition Application?

The Coalition Application is a centralized and standardized application allowing students to submit a single application to all of the institutions in the network. The Coalition Application schools all recognize the application, significantly reducing the amount of work high schoolers have to do during the admission process.

It’s often been touted as the main competitor to the more established Common Application due to its growing number of users. The organization that created the application is the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. As it states on the official site, the Coalition Application schools “have an excellent track record of supporting students and ensuring they graduate.”

A male student using his laptop at home.

Coalition Application schools have the advantage of creating unique requirements such as additional materials, supplemental essays, and anything else admissions officers want that the standard application doesn’t already request. This flexibility ensures schools still get the information they need from applicants while still benefiting students.

There’s an entire Coalition Application platform that comes with a wealth of handy features and tools. Students can easily and securely store projects, essays, letters, and other important materials to get reviewed by admissions officers. The Coalition Application is quickly becoming a popular alternative to the Common App among both applicants and schools.

How did the Coalition Application originate?

Starting from the beginning is a great way to understand the purpose behind the Coalition Application. Towards the end of the summer of 2015, more than 80 schools got together – including the entire Ivy League – to form the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success (CAAS).

The original goal of the coalition was to improve college access and change the way students apply to higher education. At this point, there were already discussions circulating about a group of elite schools potentially creating an alternative to the already well-established Common Application.

The establishment of the CAAS confirmed these rumors. The 2016-2017 application cycle was the first time students were able to use the Coalition Application officially. Since its inception, the Coalition App has undergone some major changes and revisions to make it easier for both students and colleges.

The number of Coalition Application schools has increased drastically, too, giving high schoolers significantly more options and – at the same time – making the Coalition App a sought-after option. It’s important to note that the vast majority of schools accepting the Coalition App still accept the Common App.

What’s the difference between Common and Coalition Application?

Many students get confused about these two different applications as there isn’t an obvious difference at first. In reality, they’re both very similar as they provide the same role: standard application students can send to a wide variety of schools. In other words, they make the college application process much more manageable.

So, where do they differ precisely? Well, the most important difference is the number of schools that accept the application. The application you choose will determine the colleges and universities that will accept your application. The other differences are fairly minor but still important to review:

Coalition Application Common Application
# of Member Schools Currently, there are over 150 Coalition Application schools, but this number grows each year. This is fewer than the Common App because it’s newer. The Common App is accepted by over 900 colleges and universities across the country. It’s by far the most widely adopted application.
Application Restrictions Places no limit on the number of schools students can apply to. Sets a maximum of 20 schools, limiting the number of applications students can send.
Extracurricular Activities Allows students to list up to eight extracurriculars but offers sufficient room to describe these activities. Let’s students list ten extracurricular activities but have limited space for description.
Upload Options The Locker functionality makes it easy for students to upload various files to show to admissions offers. Doesn’t allow for direct uploads. Instead, students have to link to other sources such as YouTube or a personal website.
Support Support is only offered during the weekdays. Support is offered 24/7/365.

Should you choose the Coalition or Common App?

Both applications share a lot of similarities, making it harder for high schoolers to choose between the two. There’s also a common question among applicants about which application colleges prefer to see. There are still others who wonder if one of the applications can help them stand out from the rest of the applicants.

Those are all fantastic questions. So, let’s dig into it. In reality, the colleges and universities that accept both the Common and Coalition App don’t have a preference. Think of it as standardized test scores. Admissions officers just want to see a great score. They don’t care if it’s the SAT or ACT. Similarly, schools want to see a stellar application. It really doesn’t matter which one you choose.

A female student at home, looking at her laptop.

Furthermore, choosing one application over another isn’t going to help an applicant stand out for better or for worse. You should be focusing on other aspects of your application such as your personal statement, letters of recommendation, GPA, test score, and other important factors if you’re looking for a way to stand out. Choosing the Coalition App over the Common App or vice versa isn’t going to turn any heads.

The most important consideration to make when choosing between the Common App and Coalition App is the schools to which you want to apply. There are only around 150 Coalition Application schools and a whopping 900 Common Application schools. If the majority of your top-pick schools only accept the Common App, it doesn’t make any sense to fill out the Coalition App.

No matter which application you choose, students need to start preparing early. Waiting too long will only make the college admission process more stressful while decreasing the quality of your application. Once you determine which application you’re going to use, make a list of all the requirements in addition to the school-specific requirements from each school you intend to apply to.

At AdmissionSight, we advise high schoolers to start preparing their applications the summer after their junior year, right before senior year begins. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to study yet. You’ll have time to figure that out.

What are the Coalition Application schools?

  • Allegheny College (PA)
  • American University
  • Amherst College
  • Arizona State University
  • Babson College
  • Bates College
  • Beloit College
  • Binghamton University
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brown University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Bucknell University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carleton College
  • Carroll University (WI)
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Clemson University
  • Colby College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • College of William and Mary
  • College of Wooster
  • Colorado College
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University (NY)
  • Dartmouth College
  • Davidson College
  • Denison University
  • DePauw University
  • Drew University
  • Duke University
  • Elon University
  • Emory University
  • Florida Southern College
  • Florida State University
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Hamilton College
  • Harvard College
  • Haverford College
  • Illinois State University
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • James Madison University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Juniata College
  • Kenyon College
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Loyola University Maryland
  • Lycoming College
  • Manhattan College
  • Marist College
  • Mercyhurst University
  • Miami University
  • Michigan State University
  • Middlebury College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • North Carolina State University
  • North Central College
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Purdue University
  • Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Reed College
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  • Rutgers University – Newark
  • Saint Michael’s College
  • Salem College
  • Simmons College
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • Southern Methodist University
  • St. Mary’s University (TX)
  • St. Olaf College
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York College at Geneseo
  • Stetson University
  • Stony Brook University
  • Susquehanna University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Sweet Briar College
  • Texas A&M University
  • The College of New Jersey
  • The Ohio State University
  • The University of New Mexico
  • Trinity University (TX)
  • Tufts University
  • Union College (NY)
  • University at Albany
  • University at Buffalo
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Florida
  • University of Georgia – Athens
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Mary Washington
  • University of Maryland College Park
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  • University of Missouri – Columbia
  • University of Montana
  • University of New Hampshire
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Rochester
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Tampa
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington – Seattle
  • Ursinus College
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Polytechnic InstituteWake Forest University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Yale University

Tips for filling out the Coalition Application

At times, filling out the Coalition Application might feel tedious. Still, it’s important to remember that this is a critical document that will determine your chances of getting accepted into the school of your choice. Here are a few tips for filling out the Coalition App to put your best foot forward in the college admissions process:

Fill out the Common App at the same time.

There’s no reason not to fill out both the Common App and Coalition App. It not only widens the number of colleges and universities you can apply to, but you’ll have both applications ready to go if you end up applying to a school last-minute.

Two students at the library helping each other with their homework.

With a significant amount of overlapping information, there’s no reason to fill out each application individually. For the basic information such as your name, age, and high school, you can fill out the details on the Common and Coalition App simultaneously to cut down on the time expenditure.

Of course, there are many elements you’ll have to fill out individually since they differ between each exam, such as the college essay prompts.

Start with the profile section first.

Yes, we’ve already touched on the importance of filling out the basic personal info for the Common and Coalition App at the same time, but it’s also essential to mention the order of completion.

Student studying using laptop and taking notes.

The Coalition Application requires applicants to fill out their profiles before heading onto any other portion. Yes, that is annoying if you’re eager to get into the meat of the application, but there’s no way around it.

Take just a half hour or so and knock out this profile section so you can continue to the crucial parts of the application. Keep in mind that you can fill out the profile section even before the actual application is open for completion.

The quicker you can get this section completed, the sooner you can move onto college-specific requirements from your top-pick schools.

Take full advantage of the “locker” feature.

The Coalition Application has a handy “Virtual Locker” that conveniently stores and backs up all of the important documents that will highlight your extracurricular achievements. Once you open a Coalition account, you should take advantage of this feature right away.

Not only does it make it easier to organize all of the documents you’ll need to gather, but it also is a great place to keep them safe and protected. Keep in mind that adding too many documents can actually take away from your application overall as it tells admissions officers that you’re not confident about your achievements to only include a few.

We highly recommend students choose just a handful of extracurricular highlights that provide an accurate representation of their accomplishments without overwhelming admissions officers. Don’t forget that they have hundreds if not thousands of applications to run through, so you’ll want to make this section of your application pop.

Filling out the Coalition App can feel daunting and confusing at first, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it. Just make sure to get started as early as possible, pay attention to what’s required, and take your time to ensure your final product is the best representation of your academic achievements and capabilities. This will put you in an excellent position to get accepted into the college or universities of your choice.

Increase your chances of getting accepted into best-fit schools.

Nervous about applying to college? Not sure where to begin? You’re not alone! It’s perfectly common to feel anxious about approaching this major transition in your life. Fortunately, you don’t have to undertake the challenge alone!

At AdmissionSight, we specialize in helping students just like you nail the application process and increase their chances of getting into best-fit schools. With 75% of our students getting into Ivy League and Top 10 universities, there’s no school out of reach for the students we work with. So how does it all work?

A smiling woman sitting at desk writing on her notebook.

We’ve identified some of the most crucial parts of a college application, and we offer a wide range of services aimed at helping students improve each of these critical areas. For example, we offer high school course planning strategies to help increase your GPAs. We also provide standardized test preparation solutions to help students optimize their SAT and ACT scores.

If you’re interested in learning more about AdmissionSigth and what we offer, feel free to contact us. We’ll get in touch with you shortly to schedule a free consultation where you can get all of your questions answered. You’re just a few steps away from getting on the right path to your dream school. We look forward to hearing from you!




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.