In terms of applying to college, you may have heard of the Common Application, which allows students to apply to many schools at the same time. Similar to the Common Application, the Coalition Application was released in 2015 as an effort to make the college application process more accessible and manageable for underrepresented groups.
Though there are some key differences between the Common Application vs. Coalition Application — as well as applications that go directly to a school via their website — learning about the Coalition Application and whether or not it would be a good option for you is something to consider before beginning the college application process.
What is The Coalition?
The Coalition, or the Coalition for College, is the name of the organization that has created The Coalition Application.
According to their website, their mission is to “support lower-income, under resourced, and/or first-generation students; to provide responsible financial aid; and to bolster students’ success in college-and beyond.”
The Coalition was started with the aim of helping to make the college application process easier, especially for historically under-represented groups.
What is the Coalition Application?
The Coalition Application is a college application platform that 150 or so colleges subscribe to. It’s relatively new and has not been around nearly as long as the Common App.
However, the Coalition App has features that are not found as easily on the Common App, with the goal of helping all prospective college students — no matter their background — find the college application experience easy and attainable.
Should You Fill Out the Coalition Application?
One question prospective students might be wondering is whether or not they can use both the Common Application and the Coalition Application. The answer is, yes — however, if there’s a school that’s available to apply to via both applications, you can only choose one of those applications to apply to that given school. You won’t apply to the same school twice on each app; just pick the application you feel more comfortable with.
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The Coalition Application Essay
Like the Common App and other college application websites/platforms, the Coalition Application also requires a college essay from applicants. It’s an opportunity to tell admissions counselors who you truly are, beyond the on-paper credentials that are within your application. The essay, therefore, is very important and knowing how to best prepare yourself for completing this aspect of the application.
Essay Questions on the Coalition Application
The essay questions on the Coalition Application may be somewhat similar to those on the Common App, however, again, there are some major differences. The first big difference is that there are only five essay prompts, instead of seven. The word count is also different, and most essays ask for a word count of between 500 and 550 words.
According to the Coalition for College website, the essay prompts are as follows:
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Keep in mind that these prompts can change from year to year, and each school you apply to may have different requirements depending on their application.
What Colleges Accept the Coalition Application?
As of 2020, there are about 150 schools that accept the Coalition Application. Some may accept the Common App OR the Coalition Application (or a direct application through the school), and some may only be available on the Coalition Application.
There are certain criteria for schools who want to be on the Coalition Application, so it’s not so much what colleges accept the Coalition Application, but which colleges the Coalition Application accepts. According to ThoughtCo:
- The school must be open to students of all backgrounds, including those who may be under-represented.
- Member schools must have in-state tuition rates that are affordable/reasonable compared to other schools. They must be committed to providing financial resources for students or having students graduate with minimal student debt.
- To be part of the Coalition Application, member schools should have a graduation rate of at least half for under-represented and/or low-income students.
While there are currently around 150 schools that are on the Coalition Application, these include a mix of public, private, and liberal arts colleges. Additionally, non-U.S. students (international students) can also use the application.
Who Should Use the Coalition App?
It’s important to recognize that you do not need to be from one of the backgrounds mentioned in order to use the Coalition Application. In fact, some schools, for instance, the University of Maryland, only accept applications from the Coalition App for all interested applicants. To see the full list of schools using the Coalition App, visit the Coalition for College Access website.
4 Unique Features of the Coalition App
Something that makes the Coalition App unique are the features that are provided to applicants to help make applying for college easy.
1. The Locker
Some schools may ask for multimedia clips from students in their application. The Locker is a secured area on the platform where students can upload videos, photos, documents, etc.
2. Collaboration Space
This is a cool feature of the application that allows students to invite friends, family, mentors, etc., to take a look at the student’s application materials and provide feedback before the student submits their application.
This is where students can collaborate with others and get advice from a Coalition Counselor which is the online resource library.
4. The Coalition Application Portal
This is where students gather all the necessary materials needed for their application and where they fill out their application and then submit.
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The Cost and Fees of the Coalition Application
Although the Coalition Application exists to serve students from under-represented and/or low-income backgrounds, unfortunately, the Coalition Application is not free. Though the application platform is free to all users, there is a cost associated with each application that you ultimately submit. The cost of an application depends on the school.
That being said, it’s very easy to get a fee waiver if you qualify, and to qualify, you need to meet one of the criteria. Some examples of criteria for getting a fee waiver are qualifying for free or reduced lunch at school and/or qualifying for a fee waiver for the ACT or College Board.
A Summary of the Coalition Application
As a prospective college student, it can feel a bit concerning to use an application that you may have not heard of before. But the Coalition Application has already been around for a couple of years.
Remember, because you don’t need to pay to utilize the tools and resources on the Coalition App, it’s worth checking out, anyway. Then you can decide if you want to apply to schools this way.
Also, since some schools only accept applications from the Coalition App, anyway, there’d be nothing to worry about! Applying through the Coalition App versus another application does not make you less desirable of a candidate.
If the stress of applying to college via an application like this is too much for you to handle right now — as well as the impending pressure of college (tuition, time, and other expenses) — know that there are other options out there. The University of the People has an easy application process, and because our program is tuition-free and all online, there’s no pressure to enroll.