Universal College Application (UCA): Should You Use It?

Should you use the Universal College Application?

College applications are a unique beast. Depending on how many schools you’re applying to, your applications could take an afternoon or an entire month (or 3). You have to know all your personal information, list out all of your extracurriculars, select a major, and, of course, write the essay. And since each school has its own set of topics to choose from, it can take you weeks to complete all of them! 

Starting early can help you get them all done. But there has to be an easier way, right?

Well, it depends. Some colleges allow you to apply through the Common App, Coalition Application, or the Universal College App! All three are designed to help you complete college applications in less time and with less worry. Thanks to them, you don’t have to fill out your personal information dozens of times, rewrite all of your extracurriculars, get 12 copies of letters of recommendation, or write 12 different essays!

In this article, we’ll be covering the basics of the UCA and what you need to know before using it.

What is the Universal College Application?

Also known as the Universal College App, the organization was founded in 2007 to help students streamline their application processes. Any college can use the Universal College Application as long as they pay fees, are accredited, and stick to the National Associate for College Admission Counseling’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice.

What Does the Universal College Application Include?

If you decide to use this application process, you will be asked to supply:

  • The application and profile information
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts and other reports
  • College application fees

Using the Universal College App also gives you access to a checklist that shows the status of your applications, a college search tool, and details on what each college requires from their applicants.

Is it Different from the Common App and Coalition Application?

Yes, aside from the standards for being able to participate in the application process, the Universal College Application serves fewer schools. Only about 18 schools at the moment accept the application process. This is compared to over 900 that use the Common App and more than 150 that accept the Coalition Application.

It is worth noting that 77 schools accepted the Universal College Application in 2010. Just because your potential school accepted it last year, does not mean that they will accept it this year – so double-check before you make plans for your applications!

Students can see the colleges that accept the Universal College Application here, the Common App here, and the Coalition Application here.

Is the Universal College Application Right For You?

The Universal College Application doesn’t work for every student. After all, it’s quite possible that you’re not interested in any of the schools on the list! So first you need to ask yourself, “Are your schools on the Common App, Coalition Application, or Universal College Application?” They can be on one, two, or all three! But which should application process should you use?

Here are a few scenarios to help you decide:

  • All of your schools accept the UCA. Then you should use this application process!
  • Some of your schools use the UCA, but all accept the Common App. It will save you time to instead only do the Common App once.
  • Some of your schools use the UCA, and others don’t accept either the Common App or Coalition Application – you have to apply through the school’s program instead. You should use the Universal College Application to save yourself a bit of time, but you will have to do the individual applications by themselves as well.

It’s worth noting that since the Universal College Application partners with so few schools, it is unlikely that your potential schools ONLY use the UCA, if at all. They’re much more likely to be on the Common App and Coalition Application.

The UCA can save you time during the admissions process… if your potential schools use it. Since so few do, it may be more worth your time and effort to use the Common App or Coalition App.

Want to know more about what colleges are expecting from their students? And how you can have a robust college application, essay, and SAT/ACT scores? Use College Raptor’s free College Match tool to build out a profile and easily find the best schools that fit your needs, wants, and academic goals.