The college application process might seem straightforward at first; you gather all the information you need, complete the online application, and press the submit button. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Here’s what you need to know about the college application process.

Every college application includes a section for your personal information, including parent and family information, school information, GPA, and a personal statement or essay. Colleges also inquire about high school awards and college level classes completed, such as dual enrollment classes and select weighted classes you have passed.

Some colleges request a high school resume and others prefer a list of extracurricular activities. While each school can create their own online application, many use one of the three applications described below.

Common Application

The common application (app) was designed to streamline the college application process by enabling you to complete one application and submit it to multiple schools for admissions consideration. You can even tweak the application before submitting it to a specific school. Currently almost 700 colleges nationwide accept the common app, including 23 in Virginia.

The common app requires the following supplemental information:
o Personal essay
o Recommendation letters
o Extracurricular activities list
o Standardized test scores
o High school transcript
o Supplemental questions (optional–based on individual college requirements)

Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Application

The coalition for access, affordability, and success application (coalition app) was designed to function as a portfolio and application. You are encouraged to build an academic portfolio from freshman to senior year of high school. This approach helps students who face obstacles during the college application process and have limited access to college guidance. Unlike the common app, colleges accepting the coalition app must offer need-based financial aid and have a graduation rate of 70% or higher. Close to 90 schools nationwide accept the coalition app, including JMU and Virginia Tech.

Universal Application

Similar to the common app, the universal application was designed to provide one application accepted by multiple schools. However, only 34 colleges nationwide currently accept this application, including Randolph College in Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Cornell. The majority of these schools accept either the universal app or the common app.

Even though two colleges use the same applications, it’s highly likely their admissions requirements and criteria may differ. It’s your responsibility to determine what each college requires and ensure you provide everything needed for a particular school. Use this worksheet to track the requirements of each school you apply to and contact us with any questions or concerns.