College Application Presents Too Much Confusion

Emily Kloostra, Staff Writer

I thought the fall of senior year would have one question for me: which colleges am I applying to? However, as soon as I figured out that answer, a new question surprised me: how do I apply?

There’s the Common App, the Coalition Application, university-specific applications and an assortment of ”priority” applications that were offered through email.

All of these applications create confusion for students, and some are unnecessary to the process.

The Common and Coalition Applications allow students to apply to multiple universities all at once. The application requires basic information that all universities need, such as name, parental information and school activities. This is a wonderful option for students who are applying to many colleges.

Of the two universities I am applying to, only one accepts the Common App. Therein lies the application’s fatal flaw. It only works if every college opts in.

The Common App also doesn’t save time with essays. If a university opts in to the application but has specific essay questions it wants answered, those are tacked on in addition to the rest of the application.

Using some sort of common application was pointless in my case, but figuring out which of the other applications to use created a whole new headache.

For the University of Arkansas, there was only one option, the “2020 Undergraduate Application for Admission,” so that decision was quick.

I thought the University of Kentucky would be that easy as well; I just needed to fill out test scores and essays and then hit submit.

Then one day I got an email from the UK Office of Undergraduate Admissions. I qualified to apply with something called the “Wildcat Application,” which, according to the email, gave me “priority admissions decisions” and other “distinct advantages.”

I panicked. Was I filling out the wrong application? Did I miss an earlier email? Was this mistake going to mess up my entire academic career? (No, it wouldn’t.)

After emailing my admissions representative from UK, I learned that there was nothing different about the Wildcat Application than the normal application I was already filling out. In fact, she told me to just ignore the other application, as there was “no benefit” to applying with it.

So why has the university now emailed me three times telling me to use this “priority application?”

It’s marketing. That’s all these college emails are. Universities want to make people feel special, but the extra applications only add to the pandemonium of applying to college. With all of the options, how do you know that you’re picking what is right for you?

My advice is to not worry about which application you use. Make sure you use an application your university accepts, but don’t stress about applying with the Common App or a normal application. Just apply; that’s the most important step.