University applications

The process of <a “href=””>applying to American universities is fairly streamlined. Many university applications are similar, which makes life much easier for families and for students. Let’s talk about three of the applications your student is most likely to fill out.

The Common Application

This application, which is used by nearly 700 schools, is the largest application of its kind. Prestigious institutions like Johns Hopkins and NYU use this application, as well as some smaller, private institutions like Pepperdine University in California. This one is fairly predictable, even though not all schools will require the same things. For instance, some schools require the student to answer some questions about themselves, while others do not.

The main section is a basic application that all schools the student applies to through the portal will see, and it includes the following sections:

  • Profile: covers the student’s demographic, citizenship, and basic contact details.
  • Family: information about the student’s parents/guardians and siblings.
  • Education: asks for information on all schools the student has attended, grades, courses they have taken, and honors, among others.
  • Testing: information about the student’s <a “href=””>test scores, including country-specific exams. (An example of a country-specific exam is the A-level, taken by students in the UK.)
  • Activities: a student may list up to 10 activities they have participated in, including school <a “href=””>extracurricular activities, hobby clubs, music lessons, internships, and philanthropy work among others.
  • Writing: an essay between 250 and 650 words long. Students may select from five topics, which change yearly and may be viewed on the Common Application’s home page.

There are a few specific questions each university will ask. These questions are usually about financial aid or general questions about the student’s life. Each university also has their own form for submitting letters of recommendation.

Universal College Application

The UCA is similar to the Common Application in many ways, but it is used by a much smaller number of schools. A high percentage of the most prestigious universities in the US, such as <a “href=””>Harvard College and <a “href=””>Princeton University, use this portal. This application also allows students to invite advisers to monitor their progress and help complete it. Advisers can include academic professionals such as tutors, teachers, or counselors.

University of California application system

The UC system uses one application for all of California’s esteemed public universities. Unlike the Common Application, where a student might answer different essay questions for each school, the UC application requires more in-depth information about a student’s intended major or school they wish to join. For example, the UC San Diego application asks students to list their top three choices for the undergraduate college they would like to be a part of. This will influence what kind of classes a student will take to complete their degree.

After the student has completed the basic information section, they will move on to the “Campuses and Majors” section, where they will choose which universities they will apply to (such as UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, or UC Berkeley), and their intended major at each. Once this is complete, the student will need to fill out the following sections:

  • Scholarships/financial aid
  • “About You”
  • Academic History
  • Activities and Awards
  • Test Scores
  • Personal Insight: This is the essay section of the UC application, but it is a bit different than most. The student will choose four out of a series of 7 or 8 questions to answer about themselves and their plans. These responses need to be around 200 words each, rather than completing a single larger essay.

There are many universities that use their own applications. However, many of the most prestigious schools can be found through these portals. When we work with students, we will be able to access their accounts. This helps ease the student’s workload and ensures that nothing gets left out.