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 your GPA, how many core classes you’ve taken, what you think you want to major in, and of course, your social security number. Then there’s the dreaded essay, and each school has its own set of topics to choose from.

There has to be an easier way, right?

Well, it depends. On what, you ask? Which colleges and universities you are applying to will determine how many applications you have to complete and which application site (Common App, or Universal College App) will make your life simpler.

Before starting the Universal College Application, there are a few things you need to consider:

1. How many schools are on your list?

How many colleges you want to apply to should be the first thing you think about when deciding how to apply. If you’re only applying to two schools is using the UCA going to make that big of a difference in terms of time? Probably not. Now if you’re applying to 13 schools, yes, using the UCA could save you a ton of time.

2. What types of schools are they?

What’s the breakdown of private vs public schools you’re going to apply to? Public universities usually have their own application process through their websites, and the applications themselves are fairly streamlined. Applications for large, public universities don’t usually involve essays, so they don’t take as long to complete.

Private schools, on the other hand, usually have a more extensive application process. They want to know everything you’re involved in (athletics, clubs, volunteering, etc.) and they want you to present it in a well thought through a personal statement or creative resume.  If you’re applying to multiple private colleges or universities, expect your applications to take a bit longer to complete.

3. What applications do the colleges/universities accept?

If you are applying to multiple colleges, see which applications they accept. Perhaps you’ll be able to save yourself some time by completing the Universal or Common application.

If you’ve decided that you’re going to submit your college applications using one of these umbrella platforms, which one should you use? Is there really a difference between the Common App and the Universal College App?

Yes, there is a difference, and the most noticeable of these is the number of schools you can submit your application to. Over 600 colleges and universities accept the Common App, whereas only 44 accept the Universal College App. For this reason, I would only recommend using the UCA if you are applying to a couple of the schools accepting this application. If you are applying to any schools that don’t accept UCA but do accept the Common App, go with that one instead.

For a list of schools that accept the Universal College App, click here.

For a list of schools that accept the Common App, click here.

Or, if you would like to learn more about the Common App before making your decision, check out this article.

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