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Common/Coalition Application

What are private institutions?

Private colleges/universities are independent schools that set its own policies, goals and is privately funded. Some private colleges/universities are: Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and USC.

How to apply to these private institutions?

You can complete an application on the Common Application.

* If a private school is not on the Common App, you will need to apply to the school directly on the schools website.


Deadlines are different for every school, so be sure to keep a look out for your own school's deadline!


How can I apply?

  1. You will need to create an account. You will need high school transcripts, list of extracurriculars, parent/guardian information & honors/ awards. Some schools will require Letters of Recommendations, so start thinking about a counselor, teachers, or advisors.

  2. After you make the account, you will add the private schools you want to apply too and fill out the common application along with the questions for each specific school.  

Things to keep in mind:

  • Most colleges will require you to answer an essay question

  • Most colleges will require you to have letters of recommendation, ask your recommenders early on in the year (July-August) to allow them ample time to prepare and get to know you. Provide your recommender(s) a completed Student Profile/Brag Sheet when asking!  
  • Deadlines are different for every school, so check each of your school for their individual deadline (early action & regular decision). 


Deadlines are different for every school, so be sure to keep a look out for your own school's deadline!

Coalition Application 

  • In the Fee Waiver section of your MyCoalition Profile, simply check all applicable criteria boxes (such as “I have received a College Board fee waiver.”) and you’ll see a list of all the schools that will waive your application fees based on your qualification. No additional documentation or verification required.
  • Eligibility criteria include: qualifying for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program, receiving a College Board, ACT, and/or NACAC fee waiver; being eligible for a Pell Grant, participating in TRIO programs.


Common App

Created in 1975, the application allows students the convenience of only having to fill out their personal information and achievements once.

Many colleges have supplements with additional essays and short-answer prompts, but the application still means less work overall compared with the days when each school required a separate application.

There are about 900 schools on the Common App and students can choose from a larger number of essay prompts.

If you’re planning on attending college outside of the U.S., then the Common App might be a better option since it partners with schools in 20 countries, as well as in all 50 states in the U.S.

Coalition App

Created in September 2015, the Coalition application emphasizes affordability. Colleges must offer affordable tuition or sufficient financial aid, as well as meet or exceed “rigorous” graduation requirements. 

Students can add people such as parents, teachers, or mentors to their account.

There are about 150 schools on the Coalition App. More selectivity on member colleges and universities ensures that students are applying for colleges that offer a relative degree of access, affordability, and success

Application Overlap

The applications are similar in construction. Both applications require essays, and many schools have supplements. Both applications offer an essay topic of your choice, along with specified topics.

Neither application will give you an edge in the admissions process. All Ivies and many other highly selective schools accept both applications. Additionally, both are free to use, although you will have to pay application fees to individual schools or obtain a fee waiver.

If you’re not sure of which one to use, start by identifying which colleges on your list accept one over the other. If more colleges accept, say, the Common App, that’s the one to use. If most of the schools accept both applications, then look at the essay prompts, and choose the application with the essay prompt that appeals to you more.

You never have to submit applications to the same school on BOTH application platforms. Also, schools generally provide multiple methods for applying, and the Common App and Coalition App are simply two of the more popular options.