Tips for Applying to College with the Universal University Application | College Coach Blog

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describe the image Increasing seniors: anxious to get a jump start on applying to college? Can’t wait until the Common App goes live on August 1? If you plan on applying to Brandeis, Colgate, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Rice, Tulane, the University of Chicago, Vanderbilt, or any of the other 33 other U. S. colleges and universities that use the Universal University Application, you’re in luck. The Universal College Application launched July 1 .

An alternative to the Common Application, the Universal University Application (UCA) is run simply by ApplicationsOnline, a for-profit company that deals exclusively with application solutions. And if you happen to remember the good ol’ Common App (the one that didn’t cause thousands of teenagers to scream on their computers and lose rest over unrelenting glitches and distribution errors), you’ll be happy to understand that the founder of the ApplicationsOnline assisted to create that original Common App.

So if you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s what you need to know about finishing the Universal College Application. Think about this your walkthrough guide for the UCA! Follow these steps and you should be able to comprehensive the online application (minus the essays) in 35 minutes or much less.

Step1: Head to www.universalcollegeapp.com plus register as a new user.

Step 2: Complete the applicant profile.

This is an incredibly simple four-page form that asks for your name and basic get in touch with information. The “early decision applicants” page is an agreement form only to get students who plan on applying to one of the UCA colleges under a binding earlier decision (ED) program. If you’re not sure about your ED plans, skip this site. You can always come back to it later!

    ✔ Tip: If you want to keep the applicant profile private, don’t check the “Allow colleges to see my completed Applicant Profile” box! Otherwise, you might start receiving unsolicited emails through UCA colleges, encouraging you to apply.

Step 3: Add colleges to you list.

Intended for rising high school seniors graduating within 2015, click “add” next to the right college’s name; then select “fall 2015” and “first year” around the pop-up screen. Next you’ll discover all of your options for applying to that particular school (early decision, early action, regular decision, etc . ). Alternatively, you can use the drop down menus on the top of this page to select your term, plan, and decision plan. Then when you click “add, ” your specific term/deadline preferences will already be rescued.


    ✔ Tip: Once you select “early decision” for one UCA school, you’ll see that option becomes unavailable for any other UCA schools you might include in your list. See below to have an example from Johns Hopkins.


Step 4: Begin filling out the actual application.

This particular eight-page form consists of the following areas: personal data; application information; loved ones information; academic information; standardized testing; extracurriculars and work experience; private statement; and additional information.

    ✔ Tip: On the “application information” page, the “possible major” industry provides you with a generic list of educational options. These are not school specific!! Cornell, for example , doesn’t offer a good oceanography major. To help personalize the application (and to let colleges understand that you know what majors they offer), don’t select an option that isn’t available at all the schools to which you are applying.


Nice change from the Common App: Also on the “application information” page, you’ll note that the “possible career plans” is an open up text field (not a fall box), meaning that you can type in anything that floats your boat, whether it’s “cardiothoracic surgeon” or “organic farmer. ”

Nice change from the Common App: When you reach the “family information” page, you might be amazed by the plethora of options for your parents’ professions. Whether you have a parent who is a model, a massage counselor, a cementing and gluing device operator and tender, or a parent who is retired, the UCA has an option for you!

    ⚠ Caution!: Please note that on the “extracurriculars and work experience” page, area labeled “describe activity” (which is really the place for you list the title of your club/organization) is short. Extremely short. At just 29 characters, “High School Musical Productions” doesn’t suit, but “High School Musicals” will certainly. The same goes for the “position kept, honors won, or letters earned” field. This text field provides you just 30 characters to broaden on the details of one activity. You must also be aware that there is only room to get seven extracurricular activities and five work experiences on the UCA. (The Common App gives you room to get 10, but you can use all ten of those spaces for clubs plus none for work experiences in case you so choose. )   If you discover that your extracurricular activities warrant extra explanation, or you have more than seven worthwhile clubs to list, think about uploading a résumé on the “additional information” page.


Part one of the three part series on the General College Application should give you just enough to help you get started. Tune in next Wednesday when we give you our next set of tips on the UCA.

Elyse Krantz is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Prior to joining College Coach, Elyse worked in admissions on Barnard College and Bennington University.

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