The Different Types of College Admissions Deadlines

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As a high school senior you are probably being faced with a lot of deadlines and decisions right now. Choosing and applying to colleges can be an exciting and stressful time. You’ll need to start narrowing your choices so you end up with a list of your top five to seven colleges. Check on their websites and found out what their application deadlines are, so you won’t miss out.

Terms to Know

You might see a few terms that are unfamiliar to you. Here is an outline of the different types of college application deadlines:

  • Early action: If you have everything in order, are satisfied with the results of your college admissions test, and have narrowed down your list to two or three colleges, early action is the way to go. You can apply to as many colleges as you want. You should receive notices of acceptance, rejection, or deferral by January 1. Some schools start the early action process as soon as October 15, with notifications sent out in mid-December.
  • Single choice early action: This is similar to early action, but you can only apply to one college.
  • Early decision: Early decision is binding, and you must withdraw applications to any other schools. If you are absolutely set on attending a certain college, no matter what, it can be a good choice. If you want to wait and compare financial aid packages, you are probably better to use early action deadlines. These deadlines are usually in November, with notification by mid-December. It can put a lot of stress on you if you put all of your eggs in one basket and are not accepted. Then you will be scrambling in December to apply to other schools.
  • Rolling admissions: The school simply reviews all applications as they are received and notifies students on an ongoing basis. This can be good if you want to apply to a certain college to see if you have a chance at being accepted, and still want to leave yourself time to apply to others if you aren’t accepted. It can be difficult to know when it’s too late to apply to a college like this, as their freshman class may or may not fill up quickly.
  • Regular admissions: This deadline can vary, depending on the college, but usually falls somewhere between January 1 and February 1. It is advisable to have your essays written and your recommendations in line by the end of November, so you don’t get caught in a holiday rush. Acceptance notices are sent out between March and May.

Other Considerations

Be sure you understand the admissions process at each individual school. Some rely on the Common Application, some use the Common App with some extra requirements, and some have their own process entirely. Write all deadlines on a calendar and pay attention, as waiting until the last minute can often cause problems.

A college financial aid advisor can help you sort through all of the financial factors which might affect your decision to attend a certain college.

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Okun, Jodi. "The Different Types of College Admissions Deadlines." ThoughtCo, Aug. 18, 2021, Okun, Jodi. (2021, August 18). The Different Types of College Admissions Deadlines. Retrieved from Okun, Jodi. "The Different Types of College Admissions Deadlines." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).