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 a new "rollover" of this year's data, students may begin completing the common areas of the application now.]

But there are other online mass applicators (aside from the proprietary applications still utilized by many college).

The Universal College Application, home to some 44 college applications, which will go "live" for 2016-17 on July 1.

The newly minted (and still not quite ready for prime time) application of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, with 58 colleges on board for 2016-17 (down from 90 member colleges, the remainder taking a "wait and see" stance). [The Coalition application is available now, but, as applicants will notice, many sections are said to be "Coming Soon."]

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

Coming in September, the Cappex (as in, the folks who bring you college and scholarship searches) application. [You can only read about the Cappex Application at this point in time, the actual application, with likely access to somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 colleges, still on the drawing board.]

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

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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For more on the college application frenzy, READ my colleague, Nancy Griesemer's, poignant and concise article, Cappex Enters The College Applications Market
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