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What Parents & Students Need to Know About the 2018-19 Coalition Application

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Since its release in 1975, the Common Application has been the main shared application option available to college applicants. The Common App system allows students to fill out all the standard application sections only once and send that data to multiple colleges, simplifying the process and saving students a considerable amount of time.


Various other shared application systems have been proposed, but few have become as widely used as the Common App. However, a new option is gaining in popularity: the Coalition Application, which offers an approach to the standard college-application questions intended to improve college access and offer students flexibility.


As the Coalition App gains member institutions and student users, it’s making changes based on the data and suggestions they provide, and every year brings new updates. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering using the Coalition App to apply to college in the 2018-19 admissions season.


The Coalition Application: An Overview

We’ve covered the Coalition App in detail in previous posts on the CollegeVine blog. For in-depth information about what questions the application asks, how to access and submit the application, and what you’ll need to remember to complete a winning application, try the following posts:


Common App Vs. Coalition App: Which to Use?

How to Use the Coalition (CAAS) Locker in 9th through 11th Grade

How to Write the Coalition Application Essays 2017-2018


For the moment, it’s important to know that the Coalition App is a shared application system developed by the Coalition for College, formerly known as the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. This organization is composed of 140 member colleges who are interested in improving the application process for students, especially first-generation, lower-income, and other students whose resources may be more limited.


After years of research and development, the Coalition App itself was first made available through member colleges for the 2016-17 college admissions season. Since then, additional colleges have joined each year, and more are slated to make the transition in the next few years.


The Coalition’s work isn’t limited to the Coalition App itself. Their shared application is part of a larger suite of tools that students and college counselors can use to help students throughout high school get ready for the college application process.


One feature, the Locker, allows students to store copies of their work throughout high school for use in their eventual applications. Another, the Collaboration Space, gives students the option to easily allow counselors and other trusted adults to view and help with important projects like college lists and application essays in progress.


While the Coalition is most interested in improving the college application process for students who need the most assistance and may not be getting it from their schools, the tools it’s created can be useful to all applicants, and anyone can access them. If your colleges of interest offer the Coalition App as an option, it’s well worth exploring how this application format might help you put together a more compelling application.

What Hasn’t Changed in 2018-19

If you’ve already started your research on the Coalition App based on last year’s information, don’t worry that your efforts were for naught; for the most part, the Coalition App will remain the same for the 2018-19 application seasons. Changes have been made and new features added, but the bulk of the application will look much like the 2017-18 version.


Colleges continue to want to know the same basic information about applicants year after year, from your academic performance and standardized test scores to your extracurricular activities and special accomplishments. Most of the questions that the Coalition App asks haven’t changed significantly for the 2018-19 version of the application.


It’s also been announced that the standard Coalition App essay prompts for the 2018-19 version will be the same as they were in the 2017-2018 option. To learn more about those essay prompts and how to answer them effectively, check out our post How to Write the Coalition Application Essays 2017-2018.


If you’ve already been using the Coalition’s Locker and/or other planning tools, you’ll be relieved to find that your access to these tools won’t change with the release of a new year’s application. The Coalition system is designed to be used continuously throughout your high school years. You’ll be able to log onto the Coalition system using the same account you’ve already created, and all of your content will still be there waiting for you.


What Has Changed in 2018-19

While most of the Coalition App will stay the same as in past years, there are a few changes that you should know about for the 2018-19 application. Since the system is still very young and new college partners continue to come on board, the Coalition is still growing in its understanding of what will make the application process easier, and this growth is reflected in the changes that they’ve made this year.


The Coalition App’s new “adaptive profiles” feature, introduced this year, is designed to personalize your application experience. As you set up your account, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your interests, goals, and requirements. Based on the answers you give, the application system will offer suggestions about which other items of information you should include on your application.


Other changes can be found in the Activities section of the Coalition App. The options available to you in this section have been altered to include a wider range of activities you might pursue during high school, especially those outside the most popular categories of extracurriculars.


This greater inclusiveness is a boon to students whose activities during high school were especially unusual or unique. If you’re worried about how your experiences will fit into the preordained drop-down menus and text boxes of a standard college application form, you may find that the 2018-19 Coalition App allows you to more accurately explain how you spent your time in high school—and help you stand out as a candidate.


The interface that you use as an applicant to keep track of the colleges you’re applying to has been simplified slightly in the 2018-19 application. When you view your college lists, you’ll be more easily able to see which colleges require which application components.


Aside from these changes, a few other alterations have been made to the Coalition App, but they’re relatively minor. For example, some small updates have been made to the way the Coalition App asks for information about your high school academic performance. The updated version is designed to be more efficient and easier for students to use, but you may not even consciously notice the difference.


Remember, the changes we’ve listed here are only those that apply to the basic Coalition App that forms the central part of your college applications through the system. Many colleges require you to fill out additional, school-specific supplemental questions when applying either through the Common App or the Coalition App.


School-specific supplemental questions vary in type and length and are determined by individual colleges, so they can be surprising; for instance, Princeton University asks you to identify your favorite word. These supplemental questions all live within the Coalition App system. However, we can’t include all changes made to all supplemental questions for all Coalition colleges for 2018-19 in this post. Check with the individual college for any questions you might have about their Coalition App supplements.


Getting Started on the Coalition App

If you’re interested in doing more research before you start your college applications, more information is available online. For general facts about the Coalition App, including the history of the application system and the full list of member schools, visit the Coalition for College’s website.


Since the Coalition App system is set up to be used by students throughout high school, you can get started at any time—there’s no need to wait until applications open for your admissions season. The first thing you’ll need to do is to create a MyCoalition account, which you can do at mycoalition.org. You’ll use this account to access all of the Coalition’s college planning tools.


Once you’ve created your account, you’ll find additional instructions for developing your profile and adding information. The Adaptive Profiles feature that we mentioned above, along with the system’s help features, will help walk you through the process. Your guidance counselor or teachers may also be able to help as you navigate the process, and the application’s collaborative features makes it easy to manage what you share.


Most colleges that accept the Coalition App also offer the option of the Common App, so the choice of which format to use is ultimately up to you. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use or submit the Coalition App itself to use the other Coalition tools, such as the Locker. Whichever application you choose to use, it’s worth looking into the features that make the Coalition’s tools special—and might make them ideally suited for your college planning process.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Monikah Schuschu
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Monikah Schuschu is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard University. As a graduate student, she took a job at the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid and Admissions, and discovered the satisfaction of helping students and parents with the often-baffling college admissions process. She also enjoys fiber art, murder mysteries, and amateur entomology.