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Office of Undergraduate Admissions

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Option one, two or three: Which application is right for me?

Casey Padgett, regional admissions representative

Have you ever experienced decision fatigue? I know I have, especially when I’m ordering at restaurants. For example, what type of dipping sauce do I want with my chips: queso, guacamole or salsa? Luckily, at my favorite restaurant in Columbia, I can get all three with the Tres Hombres appetizer at Cantina 76. However, that’s not usually how the real world works. Once you finally choose which colleges you want to apply to, you have even more choices to make – starting with which application to use.

This year, the University of South Carolina will have three application options for students to choose from – Common Application, Coalition Application, and our own application. Although it doesn’t matter how you apply, you may be wondering which application is best for you. Here's a breakdown of each.

Common Application

For the first time in the university’s history, South Carolina will make its debut on the Common Application starting August 1. Formatted in a way that is simple to navigate, nearly 900 institutions are on the Common App, which means even more convenience for you. When you use the Common App, you will only have to fill out the basic information and activities sections once. Not a high school senior yet? You can use the College Road Map feature starting as early as middle school to gain helpful insight on what you should be doing during each year of high school.

Coalition Application

Coalition’s focus on access, affordability and success can be summed up in its motto, “making college a reality for all students.” There are 147 colleges and universities who are a part of the Coalition application. The Coalition application also offers essay prompts, and the basic information and activities section for applicants to fill out once. Students also have access to the cloud-based “Locker,” where they can upload important documents such as papers, photos and videos starting in the ninth grade.

University of South Carolina Application

The third application option is to apply to South Carolina using our own application available on our admissions website. If you feel more comfortable using each individual school’s application instead of the Common App or Coalition, then go for it. After all, this is your application experience only. Please keep in mind that despite the Common App and Coalition’s essay prompts, the UofSC application requires you to use our personal statement prompt. This keeps the application process consistent for every applicant.


Still unsure about which application to use? I recommend creating a spreadsheet with your college list, and a log of application types, deadlines and scholarship deadlines. From there, you can make an educated decision on where to begin your college application journey. And again, we do not have a preference for which application is used. If you’re still unsure which to choose, contact your local admissions representative for questions on how to navigate the college process. Now, go ahead and treat yourself to some chips and dip. After all, it’s one of the only times you can have all three choices at the same time.








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