Universal College Application Guide
The Universal College Application (UCA) can be the best place to start if you're thinking about applying for college, as it means you can apply to up to all 44 member colleges all on the same application.
You have the choice to apply online or via post and there is no additional fee to complete this application, just your relevant fee for the participating college/university you’re applying to.
The good news is that counsellor-approved fee waivers are still valid when you’re applying via this route as well.
The great advantage of the UCA is that it’s one form regardless of the institution and your application is always treated exactly the same as if you’ve applied directly yourself.
How do I fill out the UCA?
The UCA is only a 5 page data capture form which includes:
- personal and family details
- school details
- the courses you’re currently studying this year and their credit values
- any other qualifications e.g. International baccalaureate
- SAT and/or ACT scores
- school references
- extra-curricular activities
- personal statement.
The best way to apply is to go online at www.universalcollegeapp.com where you can type in the college you’re thinking of applying for.
At this point before you start your application, you can see both the detailed application requirements, the SATs and/or ACTs required, the college fees and the deadline dates.
Please check the deadline dates carefully as they differ for first year applications to transfer students. You can also see a list of the available majors for which you can apply.
When completing your application try to enter information in all sections, even the non-school ones.
For example, where it asks for “extracurricular and volunteer information” rather than leaving it blank, always add something in, as this shows your commitment and passion to life outside of school, and how you are part of your local community whether that be business or social.
It can be anything you do, e.g. helping out younger people at your youth organization, delivering the morning papers or babysitting. It doesn’t need to be a great academic or formal volunteering activity.
The UCA personal statement
When writing your personal statement (which asks for 650 words or fewer), write what’s in your heart.
Try to put together a rough first draft, make your own amendments, and then circulate it several times to family and friends for objective opinions.
Once you have a fairly polished draft, then you can start to summarize it within the word count. It's a good idea to always have more material to work with that you can cut down, than not enough to fill all of the available space.
Please also ensure you re-read the final version at least 2 separate times and ask a family member or friend to second check and proof it for you as well.
Your school will also write a reference for you so it’s worth talking to your counsellor to understand what they will include. If they advise you of any constructive points or concerns likely to be raised, don’t just ignore them.
It’s best if you answer them in a professional and adult way within your personal statement. This shows how you manage and deal with constructive feedback and how you can move forward from it. A great start for college life.
You can use the universal college application form whether you’re a first year student applying or you’re already at college and looking to transfer.
For each application screen that you’re completing online there are help links at the top right hand side. Please use these, as they are often fairly helpful.
What if I need some extra help?
If you’re still struggling and don’t know what to write, read through our Writing A College Essay guide for practical advice, as well as our library of College Essay Examples. You may also want to look at hints and tips from experts - a great one to check out is College Coach but there are lots of other online resources too.
As you don’t have to complete the application all in one setting, you can save it part way through and come back to it at a later date. You can do this as many times as you like. We’d suggest taking your time over this application form. Don’t rush it. It’s too important.
Although there are a much smaller number of colleges you can apply to, using the UCA as opposed to the Common Application form the UCA does allow unlimited applications to member colleges, as well as your personal statement essay being on a subject of your choice. You can also upload online content you’ve produced as well.
If the universities you’ve chosen are on both the UCA and the Common Application form we’d encourage applying via the UCA as it’s very user–friendly and allows you to customize it based on your experience.
Good luck. We’re sure your application will be awesome!
For more tips and advice on applying to university in the U.S, please see: