Creating your application accounts

Think of applying to college as a long road trip. You want to ensure you stop for gas, take some stretch breaks, and grab some snacks along the way. For me, it’d be a bag of Lesser Evil no cheese cheesiness popcorn and a coca cola, but that’s beside the point. The point is that as you write your college essays, pick up your high school registration, find out your teachers, and get lost in a sea of deadlines and to-do’s, strategize how you use your fuel. Energy can be expended quickly, especially as things pick up at school, so make smaller targets to hit along the way and give yourself time for rest stops and refueling.

One of the components of actually applying to college is figuring out which online application you’ll use, how many accounts to create, and which applications will overlap. Think of it this way, if you know your college list, and know which online accounts you’re using, you’ll be able to consolidate main essays that can be used across multiple platforms, gauge how many supplemental essays are needed, and know how to request letters of recommendation, and send any supplemental materials such as transcripts.

Depending on where you apply (if you haven’t checked out how to build your college list, I suggest starting there) and on a piece of paper, or an excel sheet, write down the university and which application portal you’ll be using.

For example:

You’re applying to a handful of UC’s, a few out of state universities, and a couple private California colleges.

You see that you can apply to all the UC’s on the UC application.

Your out of state universities and private California colleges are on the Common Application and one out of state university actually has you apply directly on their website.

You create a UC Application account, a Common Application account, and then an account on the one out of state college’s site.

That’s three online account portals! Which is completely doable, but can easily become disorganized if you get lost in the weeds.

Before you dive into all of the components, just create your accounts and write your username and passwords down somewhere (in your iPhone notes, a Google doc, in a notebook, just anywhere you’ll actually use and remember). Find the links below as a resource, but always check directly on a college’s websites for the most up-to-date information on deadlines. Lastly, if a college offers option as to which online platform to use (on the Common App and their own website, for example) use the one that makes the most sense to you. There isn’t a trick to it, just providing you options. Happy applying!

Application Websites 

University of California Application

Open August 1st, submit by November 30 

One application to all UC campuses

Search campuses

California State University Application

Open October 1st, submit by November 30*

One application portal to all CSU campuses

Search campuses 

*Some campuses may have extended deadlines, check the website directly

Common Application

More than 900 colleges + universities utilize the Common Application. Your online application portal to apply to multiple out of state and private universities.

Coalition Application

More than 150 member colleges + universities utilize the Coalition Application. Deadlines vary. 


Online application system for Texas colleges + universities. Deadlines vary. 

Colleges’ own application site

Some colleges give you the option to apply directly through their website. Create an account and follow deadlines, material submissions directly on the college’s website. Note, if a college gives you multiple options (apply on the website, or Common Application, for example, choose the option that best fits you). 

International University Admissions


Application portal for universities throughout the United Kingdom. Interested in international universities? Start with NACAC’s Guide to International University Admission.

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