In this article, we will introduce you to a relatively new admissions platform, the Coalition Application. Then, we will offer some suggestions about how to approach its 2017-2018 essay prompts. By the end of this article, you will be ready to start writing, and you’ll be equipped with some admissions essay advice that will be useful no matter which application platform you end up using.
What is the Coalition Application?
The Coalition Application was created by a group of college administrators as an alternative to the more-widely used Common Application. The 2017-2018 application cycle is the second full cycle in which the Coalition Application is available. A complete list of over 100 schools that accept the Coalition Application can be found here.
Many colleges ask their applicants for the same basic information: your name and address, the classes you took in high school, your GPA, and your test score. The Coalition Application, like the Common Application, offers you the chance to enter all that information into a single platform without having to re-enter it for each new school that you apply for.
One of the unique features of the Coalition Application is its Locker system. The Locker is an online storage space that allows you to collect and organize your application materials. These materials might include traditional essays and letters of recommendation, but they also might include audio files where you show off your saxophone playing skills or a high-resolution image of your latest experiment in watercolor portraiture.
This aspect of the Coalition Application is especially useful for students applying to majors in art or music because these programs often want to see and hear what their applicants have already done. Also, some colleges are starting to experiment with alternatives to the traditional “admissions essay.” Instead of 400-word responses essay prompts, some schools will allow you to submit a photo essay or a short video clip. Note that when you store something in your Locker, the schools that you are applying for will only see it if you specifically give them permission.
More information about the Coalition Application, including tutorial videos that tell you how to navigate its interface, can be found on their website.
Strategizing Your Essay Responses
Before digging into the Coalition Application’s individual essay prompts, we would like to take a step back and talk about the role your Coalition essays will play in your application as a whole.
Before you sit down to start writing your essays, it is a good idea to look at the essay requirements for all of the schools on your school list together. Some of your target schools might just want you to respond to one of the prompts from the Coalition Application. Other schools might want you to write an additional essay that is specific to that school. And still other schools might be using the Common Application instead of the Coalition Application.
After you figure out which schools require which essays, you can settle on the exact number of original essays that you will actually need to write. An essay that you’ve written for the Common Application might work perfectly well as a response to one of the Coalition Application’s prompts. A supplementary essay that you’ve written for one school might also be a suitable response to another school’s supplementary essay prompts. With some careful planning, you can minimize the number of essays you will need to write and give yourself more time to produce high-quality work.
After you have looked at all the essays that you need to write for all your target schools, you should start looking at the collection of essays that you will need to write for each individual school. Between the Coalition and the supplementary essays, some schools might want two, or three, or even four essays from their applications. Ideally, each essay will help the admissions committee learn something new about you that they would not be able to get from looking at your test scores and grades.
For example, you might have one essay where you discuss your work in the Model United Nations club. In another essay you might shift the focus from your interest in international relations to your own personal history: Maybe you grew up in Brazil and you want to write about a quiet moment when your father first taught you how to make abará (a popular dish).
A common theme holds these essays together (your interest in and connection to cultures that reach across national boundaries), but the focus of each essay is distinct. You don’t want to just write two or three essays all on the topic of your work with Model UN. The trick is to think about your essays as complementing each other to build a multi-dimensional picture of you. Of course, no set of 400-word essays will ever be enough to communicate the whole of your personality. The challenge is to pick and choose the collection of anecdotes and experiences that will make an admissions committee want to invite you to their campus so that they can learn more.
One last note on word count: The Coalition Application suggests that your responses be between 300 and 400 words. However, some individual schools have specific word count limits that are higher or lower. Before you start writing your essays, you’ll want to check the length requirements on the essays for all of your target schools.