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The Coalition Application: Everything You Need To Know

August 31, 2023 :: Admissionado

The Coalition Application

After the Common App’s technical difficulties disrupted the application process in 2013, many colleges and universities in the U.S. realized they might be better off having an application under their control. This led to the creation of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. Their mission is to improve access to college and better support students in the admissions process. However, with the buzz surrounding its introduction, there has also been confusion and controversy. This guide will help you understand the Coalition Application, its features, and whether it’s the right choice for you.

What is the Coalition Application?

The Coalition Application is designed to provide a comprehensive platform for college applications, aiming to make the process more inclusive and supportive. Here’s a deeper look into what the Coalition Application is all about.

The Coalition Application is a platform developed by the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. This group includes a variety of colleges and universities committed to providing affordable education and supporting student success. Member schools, both public and private, must offer low-cost, in-state tuition or meet domestic students’ demonstrated needs through financial aid. They also have high graduation rates, indicating successful student outcomes.

The Coalition aims to create an admissions process that is innovative and continuously improving by leveraging technology to “level the playing field for college preparation.” This involves providing resources and tools that help students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, navigate the college application process more effectively.

Key Features of the Coalition Application

The Coalition Application offers several unique features designed to help students throughout the college application process. This section explores these features in detail.

Virtual Locker The Virtual Locker is a free repository for students to store their work throughout high school. This could include essays, videos, artwork, and other significant projects. Students can start storing items as early as ninth grade and later submit them as part of their college applications. The idea is to provide a space where students can keep track of their achievements and showcase their growth over time.

Collaboration Space This feature allows students to receive feedback on their stored materials from teachers, counselors, and mentors. It aims to complement counseling efforts and increase access to college resources. The Collaboration Space facilitates engagement between students and their support networks, making it easier to refine and improve application materials.

Holistic Application The Coalition App encourages a holistic review of applications, allowing students to submit a wider range of materials that showcase their individuality and talents beyond traditional metrics. This could include supplemental essays, multimedia projects, and other unique submissions that provide a fuller picture of the applicant.

Coalition vs. Common App: Which One Should You Choose?

Deciding between the Coalition Application and the Common Application can be challenging. This section breaks down the key differences and advantages to help you make an informed decision.

One of the most common questions students face is whether to use the Coalition Application or the Common Application. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

  • Common App: Established, widely used, and accepted by over 900 schools. It’s known for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive reach.
  • Coalition App: Newer, with unique features like the Virtual Locker and Collaboration Space, aimed at providing a holistic view of applicants. It’s accepted by fewer schools but includes prestigious institutions.

Advantages of the Coalition App:

  1. Virtual Locker: Store and organize documents, essays, and multimedia throughout high school. This helps students build a portfolio of their achievements and projects over time, making the application process smoother.
  2. Collaboration Space: Get feedback from teachers, counselors, and mentors on your stored materials. This fosters a supportive environment where students can refine their applications with professional guidance.
  3. Holistic Application: Allows for a broader range of materials to be submitted, offering a fuller picture of the applicant. This can be particularly beneficial for students who have unique talents or unconventional achievements that might not be highlighted in traditional applications.


  1. Limited Acceptance: Fewer schools accept the Coalition App compared to the Common App. This means you might still need to use the Common App for other schools.
  2. Learning Curve: The new platform might require time to understand and use effectively. This could be a challenge for students and counselors unfamiliar with the system.

Current List of Schools That Use the Coalition Application

Knowing which schools accept the Coalition Application is crucial for planning your application strategy. Here is a list of SOME of the institutions that are part of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. We included schools that are more popular among our clients. For the full list, go to their website

  1. Amherst College
  2. Bucknell University
  3. Carnegie Mellon University
  4. Clemson University
  5. Columbia University
  6. Cornell University
  7. Dartmouth College
  8. Duke University
  9. Emory University
  10. Harvard University
  11. Johns Hopkins University
  12. Northwestern University
  13. Princeton University
  14. Stanford University
  15. University of Chicago
  16. University of Florida
  17. University of Maryland, College Park
  18. University of Michigan
  19. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  20. University of Pennsylvania
  21. University of Virginia
  22. Vanderbilt University
  23. Virginia Tech
  24. Wake Forest University
  25. Yale University

General Tips for Using the Coalition Application

Beyond understanding the platform’s features, knowing how to effectively use the Coalition Application is essential. Here are some general tips to help you make the most of it.

  1. Start Early: Utilize the Virtual Locker to collect and organize your work throughout high school. Starting early allows you to build a comprehensive portfolio over time.
  2. Seek Feedback: Use the Collaboration Space to get advice from trusted mentors and teachers. This can help you refine your application materials and present your best self.
  3. Be Authentic: Use the application to tell your unique story and showcase your true interests and strengths. Authenticity can make your application stand out.
  4. Stay Informed: Keep up with any updates or changes to the application process and requirements of the schools you’re applying to. Staying informed ensures you don’t miss important deadlines or details.


The Coalition Application offers unique features that can provide a more comprehensive view of your achievements and potential. However, it’s essential to consider the schools you’re applying to and whether they accept the Coalition App. If you’re targeting schools that are Coalition members and you want to take advantage of the Virtual Locker and Collaboration Space, it could be a great choice. Otherwise, the Common App remains a robust and widely accepted option. Whichever platform you choose, the key is to start early, stay organized, and present your best self!