Common Application

Common vs. Coalition vs. Institutional: How to Choose?

With so many choices, it can be hard to know which application to submit for which school, so I thought I would provide some guidance to help families navigate the various application options.

Always choose the Common App

If a school accepts the Common Application and ANY other application, always go with the Common App. Always. Regardless of the other factors involved (the only exception to this rule would be for a “priority” application that waives the application fee, IF AND ONLY IF the application fee represents a financial hardship or concern). This will save you a lot of time!

Coalition App vs. Institutional/Systemwide Apps

Unfortunately, this decision isn’t as clear-cut because there’s more to consider. This became lengthy as I typed it out, so I decided to put together the infographic below to make it easier to understand.

Don’t Forget: Not every school offers a choice!

There are still plenty of schools out there that do not offer an alternative to their institutional and systemwide applications. When you’re considering the infographic below, make sure that you only include the ones that offer a choice when asked to do so.

Which schools require the Coalition Application Common Application Northern Virginia DC College Counseling

Examples of Schools in Various Categories

Schools requiring institutional or systemwide applications:

The University of California system-wide application, College of Charleston

Schools requiring the Coalition Application (a.k.a. Coalition-Exclusive):

Virginia Tech, University of Maryland

Schools with abnormally difficult institutional or systemwide applications that offer the Coalition Application as an alternative:

ApplyTexas (the University of Texas systemwide application)

Schools with typical institutional or systemwide applications that offer the Coalition Application as an alternative:

JMU, Clemson


Note: All requirements are accurate as of June 11, 2019