Just when you thought it was safe to start your college applications, you have to decide where to start them, how to submit them, and who will truly give you the easiest access, the most bang for your buck, and the greatest likelihood of success.

Most of those applying to colleges are familiar, for better and for worse, with the
 Common Application (with 600+ colleges), replete with it's spinning wheels of death, initializing bars of doom, and the very antithesis of commonality, college-specific supplements. [The Common App goes "live" August 1, but with the "rollover" of this year's data, students may begin completing the common areas of the application now.]

Beyond Common App, there are other online mass applicators (aside from the proprietary applications still utilized by many college).

 Universal College Application, home to some 34 college applications (down from 44 last season), which will go "live" (or is that, life support?) for 2017-18 on July 1.

The still not quite ready for prime time application of the
 Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, with 90 colleges on board for 2017-18 (up from 58 last year). The Coalition application is available now, but, as applicants will notice, mileage may vary as to availability of member college apps.

And, if all of these college applications were not enough, well... Wait, There's more!

Coming soon (officially, August 1 for 2017-18), or maybe even now (it was technically launched last September, but few knew), the Cappex (as in, the folks who bring you college and scholarship searches) application. Here's the
 Cappex Application, whose member colleges, though not necessarily on everyone's radar screen (which could be a good way to stay far from the madding crowds), offer a free-for-all. [Literally. There is no fee to apply via the Cappex Application!] EDITOR'S NOTE: Have yet to have a student utilize the Cappex App. Has anyone? Would love to get some feedback. Read more about the Cappex application HERE.

So, which application is right for you? [Ask your doctor, or, better still, your
 independent college counselor!] Common App? Universal App? Coalition App? Cappex App? The college's own application? [Compare to Brand "X" and save? Perhaps, "create a college application platform of your own."]

Which will entice you? Which is more likely to appeal to the college admissions office? Does the portfolio "Locker" of the Coalition App allow you to more fully develop who are? Does the "fee free" aspect of the yet unseen Cappex App keep more money in your pocket, and its relatively simple format keep so-called "supplements" on the drug store shelves, where they belong? Who uses the Universal College Application, anyway? And what about Naviance, which, to date, only connects with and through the Common App.

Maybe it's the essays?
Common App essay prompts 
Universal College Application essay prompts
Coalition Application essay prompts
Cappex Application essay prompts

  • Required Essay: Tell us a story about yourself that is key to understanding who you are. This could be a moment when you changed, grew, or made a difference or an everyday moment that reveals something people count on you for (600 words or less)
  • Optional Essay: The goal of this application is to reflect your unique interests, experiences, capabilities, and pursuits. To this end, is there anything else that you’d like to express?
And let's not forget the new and improved University of California essay prompts, better known as "insights."

Oh, the humanity!

If your head isn't spinning yet, just wait until those elite colleges require not only a DNA test, but your Apgar scores, as well. [No doubt to be submitted via College Board, for a fee to be determined, of course (Add $35 for Apgar scores to arrive before 2025).]

And if you think, but for a nanosecond, that U.S. News, Forbes, The Princeton Review
, and Niche, among countless others, aren't waiting stealthily in the wings to rank the plethora of college application portals, well, I have a year's tuition at Trump University to sell you!

As if the college-bound, and their parents, had nothing else to concern themselves with as they start down that long and winding road to college.

Mind-boggling? Confusing? Overwhelming? Just plain ridiculous? You betcha! The folks who brought us the Collegiate Industrial Complex, where even the heretofore simple act of boiling water has now become "nuanced" and "complex," wouldn't have it any other way!

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