The Coalition: Is It Better Than the Common Application?

May 17, 2016

Next year’s college applicants are in for a big change. Aside from the recently overhauled SAT and the updated application for UC schools, future college students will have to face a new way of applying to college: the Coalition, a contender to the Common App.

the coalition vs the common app

What is it?

The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success was created to help students understand the different components that go into the college application process and offer an alternative to the Common Application. That’s right – the site itself serves as an application portal where you enter your information just as you would on the Common App and submit it to colleges.

Who’s involved?

Over 90 colleges and universities have already jumped on board, ranging from all 8 Ivy League schools and Stanford to public institutions, such as the University of Washington and the University of Michigan. The list even includes smaller, liberal arts colleges, such as Bryn Mawr and Middlebury.

This diverse group of schools created the Coalition to make college more accessible to students, no matter the barriers they might have to overcome. The site aims to streamline the multi-step process of filling out college applications to make it simpler to understand and complete. All schools working on the Coalition platform looking to offer financially affordable higher education, whether through reasonable tuition or positive financial aid packages.

Applying to college?
View the app files and essays of accepted students.

What are the new features?

Though the full toolkit and product won’t be available until July of this year, features are starting to be released now, including the essay prompts for the upcoming application cycle. The application itself looks to be fairly standard, but additional features make this application different from the Common Application. The “Locker” section allows students to customize their application experience more than other alternatives. They can upload photos, music, videos, and more to the “Locker”, so the tool is especially helpful to students who have achievements in more areas than just academics.

The Coalition platform also addresses the part of the application process where students formulate their college lists. For some participating schools, the Coalition has created individual school pages that extract all relevant information from the university’s website, such as the materials required to apply, applicant deadlines, student life information, and financial aid support. Without having to navigate through an overwhelming amount of information, prospective students can now get a snapshot of the most important facts about each school in a single place.

There’s even room for your application support group!

The one aspect that truly makes the Coalition different from the Common Application is the addition of parents, counselors, recommenders, and anyone who is part of the application process. All these individuals can now also create accounts and collaborate with the applicant by submitting recommendation letters, editing uploaded application essays, or even messaging with the student. It seems that this feature will help school counselors’ interactions with their students and make the process more hands-on and collaborative for all parties involved.

Is it a better system?

No one knows yet. The 2016-2017 application cycle will be the first real test when many students will be able to directly compare the Coalition and the Common Application. Over the years, many have argued that students should handle the application on their own, so it will be interesting to see if the involvement of more people (i.e., parents, teachers, recommenders) will have a positive or negative impact.

For all rising seniors, pay attention to the application landscape, and make sure you’re all caught up with any new developments. One way AdmitSee can support applicants in the process is to offer access to successful application files and current college students who upload their application details into profiles similar to Coalition profiles. Aside from organizing yourself in the application process and collaborating with experts (i.e., your guidance counselor and teachers), find inspiration from real success stories – we have thousands of them in our database – and connect with students who were in your shoes just a year ago.

About The Author

Drew Evans
Drew Evans

​Drew is a content and social media guru. When he’s not working, he loves to photograph, play music, play sports, and travel. He is also weirdly obsessed with Thai food, Girl Scout cookies, and learning new languages (even though he’s not fluent in any). For any editorial ideas, contact

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Harvard ‘21

Accepted to Harvard, Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, Emory, USC

Hi! I'm a Harvard PreFrosh interested in service, economics, math, and philosophy excited to help you.
Harvard ‘17

Accepted to Harvard, UVA, USC

Hi! Harvard senior (brother in class of '19 here as well) studying Economics and East Asian Studies while journalism, wood design, dance, baseball, cultural, & professional groups.
Stanford ‘21

Accepted to Stanford

A Questbridge Match and an aspiring engineer who plans to solve global issues using business, law, politics, and, of course, science.
Stanford ‘21

Accepted to Stanford, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley

My spirit animal is Pikachu (that is, a math/science, politics-loving Pikachu!)

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