There are four types of college application: Common, Universal, Questbridge, and School-specific applications. In this article, I will explore the general overview of each type of college applications.

Common Application

Common Application, the most used type of college application, is accepted by approximately 700 colleges. This application facilitates the application process by using one application for hundreds of colleges. Most likely, Common Application will be accepted by all the colleges to which you are applying.

Common Application requires a personal essay of less than 650 words and a letter of recommendation from a school counselor. However, most colleges require two letter of recommendation from your teachers and a letter of recommendation from your counselor. Also, some colleges may require a college-specific essay of anywhere from 100-500 words.

In the Common Application, you can apply up to 20 colleges. If you choose to apply to more than 20 colleges, you may use other applications such as Universal, Questbridge, and School-specific applications if you apply to more than 20 colleges. However, applying to more than 20 colleges is not a good idea because you will spend less time on school-specific essays and also spend more money on application fees.

For more information regarding the Common Application, please visit this article.

Check Also: Undergraduate Programs for International Students

Universal Application

Universal Application currently serves 44 colleges. Since the Universal Application is newer compared to the Common Application, it is accepted by much fewer colleges than the Common Application. Because of this fact, Universal Application should be only used if you have exceeded the application limit of 20 colleges in the Common Application.

Questbridge Application

Questbridge Application is another type of college application “for high school seniors who have shown outstanding academic ability despite financial challenges”.  This application is for students from a low-income family (income of $65,000 for the family of four with minimal assets). One perk of Questbridge application is that Questbridge applicants have a chance of receiving full-ride scholarships at 38 Questbridge partners. If you are a domestic or an international student who is currently enrolled in an American high school, you are eligible to apply through Questbridge Application.

Although Questbridge is intended for students from a low-income family, students from middle class homes should also consider applying through Questbridge. First, many colleges waive the application free for Questbridge applicants. For example, Williams, Amherst, Pomona, Swarthmore, Rice, Colorado, Vassar, Washington and Lee, and Bowdoin waived the application fee for Questbridge applicants, and I saved approximately 500 dollars in application fee as the result!

Second, Questbridge application reveals information about yourself to colleges. This application asks you many personal questions and essays which is an excellent way for you to share information about yourself. Many colleges will review both the Questbridge Application and the Common Application in the admission process. This fact is very beneficial because you will be more likely to be admitted if the colleges know more information about you as a person.

There is one drawback to Questbridge application: time. The deadline to submit the Questbridge Application is late September which is two months before Early Decision deadline. In order to make your Questbridge Application shine, you will need to start the application during the summer break. Also, you will need to ask two teachers for recommendation as soon as school begins. Still, starting your application early can be a positive aspect since it would prepare you for the Common Application early.

For more information about how the Questbridge works and the full-ride Questbridge scholarship, please read this article.

School-Specific Application

Some schools do not participate in the Common Application, Universal Application, or Questbridge application. Colleges such as Georgetown, MIT, and University of California system use applications that are specific to the college. School-specific application is time-consuming and requires more attention than the Common Application. But if your dream college uses the school-specific application, then you should definitely apply! However, you should think twice about applying to colleges that use school-specific application because it is more work for you, your counselor, and your teachers.

For Your Information:

I applied through the Common Application and Questbridge Application. I applied to Bates, Connecticut, Hamilton, Kenyon, Rhodes, St. Lawrence, Union, University of Richmond, Whitman, and Birmingham Southern College using the Common Application. I applied to Swarthmore, Colorado, and Bowdoin using the Questbridge Application. I applied to Williams, Amherst, Washington and Lee, Vassar, Grinnell, and Colby using both the Questbridge and Common Application. At the end, I paid only $110 for applying to Hamilton College and Connecticut College. I did not have to pay for the application fee to other colleges because they waived it for Questbridge applicants, or for international students, or for all applicants.

For me, applying through the Questbridge Application was a huge benefit because I saved hundreds of dollars, it allowed me to show more about myself, and it forced me to start the college application process early. If your parents make less than $100,000 per year, then you should definitely think about applying through the Questbridge Application.

I hope that this article on the types of college applications was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Undergraduate Programs for International Students!