Like the Common Application, the Universal College Application enables students to apply to multiple colleges using a single application. But many colleges that accept it do not accept the Common Application. Check it out!
What Is It?
The Universal College Application (UCA) is a single college application that students can complete and submit by mail or online to any participating college. Many colleges using the UCA also require students to submit supplemental forms and arrange for teacher recommendation letters and grade reports to be sent. Using the UCA is free, but you are still required to pay the college's application fees.
Which Colleges Accept It?
About 45 colleges are accepting the UCA for the 2012-2013 application year, including well-known schools such as Duke and Harvard. CollegeData's Universal Application Colleges at a Glance will help you quickly determine whether any of your target colleges accept it. You can also view application deadlines, fees, and supplemental forms.
Unlike the Common Application, the UCA can be used by colleges regardless of their admission requirements. The Common Application can be used only by colleges whose admission requirements include essays and recommendations.
How to Use It
The application process is simple. You fill out one application and send it to as many participating colleges as you choose. You can access the online version either through a college's website or through the UCA website at universalcollegeapp.com. On the UCA website, you can enter the list of colleges you plan to apply to, fill out the application online, and send it to the colleges electronically. If you prefer to work with a paper copy, you can download a printable version that you fill out manually and mail to the college.
Some colleges have additional requirements. A college may ask you to fill out an additional form or "supplement," provide letters of recommendation, and submit an essay. Be sure to check directly with the college to confirm these "extras."
Supplemental forms gather information that is important to the college. You can access supplemental applications either from the college's website, from the Universal College Application website, or from CollegeData's Universal Application Colleges at a Glance. Pay careful attention to submission requirements for supplements. For example, some colleges require that you submit your application and the supplement separately, others want you to submit them at the same time. Questions about the forms should be addressed to the college.
You may be required to ask your school to send a School Report, Midyear Report, and/or Final Report to the college. These reports keep the college up to date with your current academic performance. The UCA website supplies these report forms as well as forms for letters of recommendation. Counselors and teachers can complete, save, and update these forms online at the UCA website.
You can even incorporate multimedia content into the Universal College Application. If you plan to submit a video of, say, a musical performance or pictures of your artwork, you can upload this material directly to your UCA and colleges will be able to view it within the online application itself.
Be Organized and Take Your Time
Using an application service like the Universal College Application makes applying seem easy. But this is not the time to take shortcuts. Pay attention to what each individual school needs from you to complete your application.
Take your time in preparing your answers. Proof carefully. If you are submitting an essay, write it ahead of time in a separate file, and then cut-and-paste it into the essay field. Make a copy of your application just in case you accidentally delete it or lose the original in cyberspace. Application services make applying to college easier, but they don't make it foolproof.