Pros and Cons of Using the Universal College App

Do one (or more) of your schools accept the Universal College App? You could save time by using the program – you may only have to do your application once to apply to the schools on your list.

But should you? Or can you? Let’s review exactly what centralized college apps are and then go over the pros and cons of the Universal College Application

What Are Centralized College Applications?

Centralized college applications refer to organizations that partner with various colleges and universities so that students only have to complete a single application, rather than several to all of their dream schools. Three examples would be the Common App, Coalition Application, and the Universal College Application.

If a student’s potential schools all use the Common App, the student only has to do one application. However, even if a majority of the schools take the Common App, it still saves time instead of doing them all individually. Students can also potentially save quite a bit of cash on fees.

4 Benefits of The Universal College Application

Aside from the obvious and aforementioned benefits – it saves time, money, and effort – there are other benefits unique to the Universal College Application that are worth noting, especially when compared to other centralized college applications.

1. The Process is Streamlined

With a streamlined interface and an auto-save feature in case you accidentally close out, the Universal College Application is like a finely tuned machine. This is especially the case when compared to the Common App’s process.

2. There’s Only One Open-Ended Essay Required 

Common App used to have this as well, but they’ve changed that to seven prompts that you choose from. The Universal College Application on the other hand has only one, open-ended essay or a personal statement. This gives you the opportunity to write about whatever you want. Some of the schools you are applying to may have supplemental questions they want you to answer, however, but that’s true for all application programs.

3. You Can Edit Your Essay After Submission

How many times have you submitted a project or essay only to realize as you hand it over you forgot a source, made a typo, or wrote a sentence incorrectly, and it’s too late to change it?

The Universal College Application allows you to make those edits even after you’ve submitted your essay! Of course, there’s a time limit – you have until the admissions department reads your essay!

4. You Can Link to Content

Have you published a video you’re particularly proud of? Or do you have an article that you wrote and published? The Universal College Application allows you to directly link to this type of content so you can show off your skills to potential colleges.

Cons of the Universal College Application

Of course, there are most certainly downsides to the organization and its application process that must be mentioned. It may very well sway you into using another one of the centralized college applications instead.

1. There Are Only 18 Schools That Accept the Universal College Application

This is a big downside.

Very few schools accept the Universal College Application, and the number seems to be dwindling each year. In 2010, 77 schools participated. By 2019, it was down to only 44 schools. In more recent years, that number has gone down to just 18. It’s very likely that your potential schools are not even participating!

On the other hand, the Common App has over 900 schools participating, and the Coalition Application has over 150. Very few, if any, schools that are currently using the Universal College Application aren’t using the Common App or Coalition Application as well. It may be more worth your time to simply go with one of the other centralized college applications.

2. Letters of Recommendation May be Harder to Submit

Under the Universal College Application, letters of recommendation aren’t necessarily considered required. And since the program is used less often, it’s unlikely that your teachers or guidance counselors have accounts to easily submit their letters with your applications. You will, therefore, have to send them an email through the Universal College Application website, asking them to become a recommender. 

Therefore, you need to be on top of your letters of recommendation requirements – put out the request to join the website too late and you may find yourself begging for them at the last minute.

The Universal College Application sounds good in theory. The practical use of it, however, is extremely limited. Very few schools accept it, and the number seems to be going down every year. For some, however, it could still be worth their time, especially if all the schools they’re considering using this centralized college application!

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