What is Rolling Admission?

Learn The Pros and Cons of Rolling Admission

Sign for a University Admissions Office
Sign for a University Admissions Office. sshepard / E+ / Getty Images

Unlike a regular admission process with a firm application deadline, rolling admission applicants are often notified of their acceptance or rejection within a few weeks of applying. A college with rolling admission typically accepts applications for as long as spaces are available.

While many colleges and universities in the United States employ a rolling admission policy, very few of the most selective colleges use it. With rolling admission, students have a large window of time during which they can apply to a college or university. The application process typically opens up in the early fall, and it may continue right through the summer.

The Advantages of Applying Early:

Applicants should realize, however, that it is a mistake to view rolling admission as an excuse to put off applying to college. In many cases, applying early improves an applicant's chance of being accepted. 

If handled wisely, rolling admission offers a student several perks:

  • applicants may receive a decision long before the March or April notification period of regular admission colleges
  • applying early can improve an applicant's chance of being accepted
  • applying early may improve an applicant's chance of receiving a scholarship
  • applying early may give an applicant first choice for housing
  • some rolling admission colleges still give students until May 1 to make a decision; this allows an applicant plenty of time to weigh all options
  • a student who applies early and is rejected may still have time to apply to other colleges with winter deadlines
  • rolling admission colleges may remain an option if a student gets rejected elsewhere; some rolling admission colleges accept applications right up until classes start

The Dangers of Applying Late:

While the flexibility of rolling admission may sound attractive, realize that waiting too long to apply can have several disadvantages:

  • While the college may not have a firm application deadline, it may have set deadlines for scholarships and financial aid. It is also possible that financial aid is simply first come, first served. Waiting too long to apply can hurt your chances of getting good funding for college.
  • Your chances of being admitted will be better if you apply early. There may be no application deadline, but programs or even the entire entering class can fill. If you wait too long, you run the danger of learning that no spaces are available.
  • Campus housing most likely has a priority deadline, so if you put off applying, you may find that all on-campus housing is filled, or that you get placed in one of the school's less desirable residence halls.

Some Sample Rolling Admission Policies:

  • University of Minnesota: Application review begins September 15; priority is given to applications received by December 15; after December 15th, applications are considered on a space-available basis.
  • Rutgers University: December 1st priority deadline; February 28th notification date; May 1st decision deadline; after December 1st, applications are considered on a space-available basis.
  • Indiana University: November 1st priority date for merit-based scholarships; February 1st priority date for admission; April 1st deadline to be considered for admission.
  • Penn State: November 30 priority date for admission
  • University of Pittsburgh: Applications accepted until class is full; January 15th deadline for scholarships

Learn About Other Types of Admission:

A Final Word:

I always recommend that students treat rolling admission like regular admission: submit your application as early as possible to increase your chances of being admitted, getting good housing, and receiving full consideration for financial aid. If you put off applying until late in the spring, you may be admitted, but your admission may come with significant cost because college resources have been rewarded to students who applied earlier.