By Stephanie Doty

Hey, Rising Seniors!

We are so excited to be launching our College Preparedness Series with you! Becoming a senior is just the beginning of your journey to college.

To begin this journey, college applications are an incredibly important first step. Regardless of when you are intending to apply, early or regular decision, knowing the steps and differences of common apps is incredibly important. Check out this Step by Step Guide to Common Applications by our partners at InGenius Prep. This guide covers everything about how to use a common application and how to avoid mistakes in your application.

As for us at Kyo Standard, we wanted to share with you the major differences between Common Application Types.

Firstly, there are a few major applications out there. These applications are more commonly used in California, Texas, and for all eight major Ivy League schools. They are:

  • The University of California Application
  • The Common Application
  • ApplyTexas
  • The Coalition Application

Let’s go over each different application to really understand what these applications are about.

University of California Application


Opening Date: November 1

Deadline: November 30

Number of Member Colleges: 9


Application Sections:

  • Start Your Application
  • Campuses and Majors
  • About You
  • Academic History
  • Activities and Awards
  • Test Scores
  • Personal Insight


Activities List: 5 activities maximum, 500-character limit for each description.

Honors Section: 5 awards/honors maximum, 500-character limit for each description.

In-State Benefits: Lower in-state tuition, lower GPA requirement (3.0 for in-state, 3.4 for out of state).

Personal Statement Prompts: Pick four to answer

  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  • Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
  • What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome the educational barrier you have faced.
  • Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
  • Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  • Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Personal Statement Length: 350 word maximum per question

Common Application


Opening Date: August 1

Deadline: Dependent on the school

Number of Member Colleges: 900


Application Sections:

  • Profile
  • Family
  • Education
  • Testing
  • Activities
  • Writing
  • Additional Information


Activities List: 10 activities maximum, 150-character limit for each description.

Honors Section: 5 awards/honors maximum, 100-character limit for each description.

In-State Benefits: N/A

Personal Statement Prompts: Pick One of the Prompts

  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • 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.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • 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?
  • 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.

Personal Statement Length: 650 word maximum






Opening Date: July 1

Deadline: Dependent on the school

Number of Member Colleges: 53


Application Sections:

  • Biographical Information
  • Educational Background
  • Educational Information
  • Test Scores
  • Residency Information
  • Extracurricular and Volunteer Activities
  • Employment Information


Activities List: 10 activities maximum, 70-character limit for each description.

Honors Section: 8 awards/honors maximum, 80-character limit for each description.

In-State Benefits: Lower Tuition, scholarships, automatic admission to the top 10% of Texas High School Students.

Personal Statement Prompts: Pick One of the Prompts

  • Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?
  • Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.
  • You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?


Personal Statement Length: 1500 word maximum but 1000 word count preferred




Coalition Application


Opening Date: August 1

Deadline: Dependent on the school

Number of Member Colleges: 153


Application Sections:

  • Personal Information
  • Contact Information
  • Demographic Information
  • Citizenship Information
  • Family Information
  • High School Information
  • 12th Grade Coursework
  • 9th-11th Grade Coursework
  • College Information
  • Subject Tests
  • Additional Tests
  • Honors and Distinctions
  • Academic Interests
  • Activities/Experiences


Activities List: 8 activities maximum, 225-character limit for each description.

Honors Section: 5 awards/honors maximum, no description section.

In-State Benefits: N/A

Personal Statement Prompts: Pick One of the Prompts

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Personal Statement Length: 550 word maximum.

These applications, when used in the correct way, are so helpful to get most of the application process out of the way. Use these applications to highlight the best attributes of your record and take your time to work on your personal essay.

Take some time to look at InGenius’s guide and the personal statement prompts to figure out which steps are best to take first and which prompt is best for you. Best of luck!

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