Common App & Coalition

  • The Common App and Coalition App both serve as general college applications that may be used to apply to several colleges. Neither of these applications is mandatory but they are extremely useful when applying to multiple colleges. To choose whether to use the Common App or Coalition research the schools you are applying to and how they accept applications. If all your schools accept both then the decision is based completely on your preference. Due to the important nature of these applications, it's crucial that you complete them accurately. Sometimes you may run into technical difficulties, have trouble navigating through the application, or completing certain sections. Below are some tips, advice, and important information regarding the Common App & Coalition!

  • Coalition

    Members of the Coalition include a diverse group of public universities that have affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents, and private colleges and universities that provide sufficient financial aid to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit. Coalition schools graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years, with many having much higher graduation rates. The Coalition has signed up over 80 schools so far, and more partners continue to join. MEMBERS of the Coalition

    Florida Universities that are part of this application include University of Florida and Florida State University.

    Steps for Applying:

    1. Go to
      1. Click the button that says “Create Your Account/Start An Application” This will help you in you life long jouney to success

    2. Create your account
      1. There will be a confirmation link sent to your email. Make sure to check your junk/spam folder.

    3. Log in as A Student
      1. Start your profile. This is information about yourself, your classes, and your extracurricular activities.

      2. Add to your locker. This is where you upload files like your essays or your portfolios if you’re applying as an Arts or Design major. You can also upload other media that is required for your preferred major (ex. Videos for film majors).

      3. Invite contacts. This application allows you to invite your counselors, teachers, parents, etc. to aid in completing your application (ex. submitting a letter of recommendation).

      4. Build your college list. This is where you select the colleges you want to send your application.
        1. You can only use this application to apply to any of the 140 colleges in the list on the first page. NO other college accepts this application.

        2. The “Start Application” button for a college is only available at the time when the college is accepting applications.

    4. Essay prompts for 2020-21:
      1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

      2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

      3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

      4. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

      5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

    Printable Version of Coalition "Steps for Applying"

  • Common App

    Go to Set up your username and password and WRITE IT DOWN! You can access it before August 1, however, everything will go down and up again on August 1 so anything you put in the Common App may be lost (save your work). 

    There is a list of schools that accept the Common App on the website. Any schools that accept them, you should apply that way. Many schools on Common App also have a supplement, so you will fill out the generic application that all of your selected schools see and then a supplement (additional application) for each individual school you selected – this can all be done on the website. You can send the application to as many schools as you want by selecting the schools on the application. The cost is determined by the individual schools. If you are eligible for a fee waiver, your applications will be waived for those schools that accept waivers.

    If you do not qualify for a waiver, you should pay early if you know you are positive you’re going to apply because you won’t be able to check your status online at that school (in order to verify that they’ve received all the necessary materials). 

    It doesn’t matter if you want to start with the generic application first or the supplements to the individual schools. You can move freely between both, so you can do generic and then one supplement at a time (which I would suggest) or you can do all your supplements first and then the generic. Don’t submit anything until you’re positive it’s how you want yourself reflected because once you submit either the generic or the supplement, you cannot go back and change any part of it. Keep in mind that you may be expecting awards around the beginning of the school year, your schedule may change, you may be elected to a new officer position, etc., so you’ll want to wait to add these things to your application – however, if there is a change (award, extracurricular, etc.), you can email the regional advisors of the schools to which you’re applying with the updated information and they will add it to your file. I would encourage you to type up everything in a word document first so that you can cut and paste it into the common app because if you realize you want to change the order in which you listed your awards, for example, you’ll have to start all over to re-order. Saving info in a word document is a great backup. Once you have added the information into the fields, you are going to want to constantly preview it to make sure it fits  (they are looking for a very specific word count, and even though it may seem like everything you typed “fits in the box” when you preview it you’ll realize often times your words are cut off). All of your activities, accomplishments, and awards should be listed in order of importance.

    Toward the end, it will prompt you to email me a request for a recommendation. You should have that sent to your Guidance Counselor.

    The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

    2020-2021 Common Application Essay Prompts

    1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

    2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

    3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

    4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

    5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

    6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

    7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

    Printable Version of the Common App Tips and Essay Prompts

  • Common App Guide Sheet

    1. Everyone should be using the weighted GPA out of a 4.0 scale

    2. Our rank is a weighted GPA

    3. Cumulative GPA is unweighted on Virtual Counselor

    4. Add a Graduation date of June 1st, 2021 (this is NOT confirmed)

    5. AICE classes are not listed so the students can list them as "accelerated" or "advanced"

    6. You can list AICE scores and if they have, they are an AICE Diploma Award Candidate under "Additional Information" (They will need to fill out the form on the website for Cambridge to send their scores to the colleges)

    7. If you have the option to write it in....Cambridge AICE English should do it

    8. All South Broward High School classes are worth 1.0 credit unless they are split on the course card (ex. Psychology/Sociology). Then you would list each one as .5 

    9.  Political Government .5

    10.  Economics .5

    11.  AP Government .5/Economic Honors .5

    12.  Most dual enrollment classes are 3.0 but double check

    13.  Honors worth 1.0/.05 (colleges)

    14.  AP/AICE worth 2.0/1.0 (colleges)

    15.  All classes including the repeated classes should be reported to the colleges

    16.  A reminder that our weighted GPA will look drastically different than what Bright Futures and the colleges will calculate

    Printable Version of the Guide Sheet