As you begin to narrow down your list of colleges, you should start researching the components needed for a completed application at each institution. The first component is always the application itself. Colleges may have different application platform options for you to choose from and colleges have no preference as to which application type you use. The three application types you may encounter are a college's own application (or their institutional application), the Common Application, or the Coaltion Application. You can see your options for applying on a college's website.
College's Own Institutional Application
If you decide to complete a college's institutional application, your application will only be going to that college. You will most likely have to create an account for that college's application portal. Save your username and password! You do not have to complete the application in one sitting. An example of an Institutional Application is the University of Illinois' MyIllini application.
The Common Application is an application that can be sent to over 850 member colleges. Check your college's website to see if they accept the Common App. As a general rule of thumb, if you are applying to three or more colleges that accept the Common App it makes sense to use this platform. The "Common App" portion of the Common App is sent to all schools you add to the Common App and the "Colleges" section will be sent to each respective college. The Common App platform rolls over every August 1st. You may start the "Common App" portion of the application before August 1st, but do not start a college's specific questions until after the roll over date of August 1st as you will lose anything entered into this section. Go to commonapp.org to create your account. Click here for helpful tips on completing your Common App as a NCHS student for the Class of 2021.
The Coalition Application is similar to the Common App in that you can apply to multiple institutions. There are currently about 150 member institutions. Check your college's website or access the member list here. To create a Coalition account, click here.