Want to get accepted to college quickly? We have an option for you! With so many admissions deadlines coming up and pressure ramping up too, plenty of students may be relieved to know there’s an underrated alternative. Consider applying to a school with rolling admissions.
Rather than waiting on pins and needles until the spring to determine your future (or in a few months, rushing to complete last-minute applications), these schools allow more flexible timelines. Not only can applying to schools with a rolling deadline take off pressure by allowing you to apply later than you would otherwise, if you apply early, you can hear back—fast.
It’s a great option to keep in mind if you’re planning ahead for applications next year, because the wider window allows you to apply earlier than you could via regular admissions.
If you’re not familiar with the term, here’s the basic idea of rolling admission:
You apply at any point during a relatively large window (usually six months, or more) rather than by a specific deadline. The school evaluates applications as they come in rather than waiting for a deadline and sorting through all the applications at once. You then find out your answer once the school makes its decision rather than needing to wait until all applications are processed. Some schools could get back to you in as few as two weeks!
For example, if a rolling admissions window opens in July, you can apply then—well before the deadline for most schools. You may then hear back as early as August or September, about half a year before regular admissions decisions are announced.
Of course, as with any other admission type, there are pros and cons. By far the largest con of rolling admission applications is that they aren’t available at every school, so even once you understand how this type of application works, you may not be able to take advantage of it. Read on for a breakdown of how rolling admissions really work for you.
Rolling Admission Pros:
- You may be able to apply later than you could under other application types, meaning that if you’re struggling to meet those looming deadlines, you may still have options for applying to schools.
- You’ll get your answer relatively quickly (usually one to two months after applying) rather than waiting to hear back until next year when the decisions all come back.
- If you apply early in the rolling admissions process, you may have a better chance of getting in; your excellent, well-crafted application may stand out more early in the process, when fewer students are applying, than it would in a regular decision process where it would need to compete against all the other applications.
- Being accepted early by a college with rolling admissions can help relieve some of the stress. You’ll know you have a school lined up, but you aren’t bound to go there the way you would be with an early decision application.
Rolling Admission Cons:
- The first-come-first-served style of rolling admissions can be a disadvantage if you aren’t prepared to submit your application early. While this type of admissions process can serve as a last-chance option after regular deadlines pass, it also generally favors those who apply early with higher chances of admission and better housing or financial aid options.
- Some schools with rolling admissions want responses within a certain time after you receive your offer of admission, which can mean that you may either need to decline that offer or else miss out on hearing back from other schools. For example, if you apply in July and are offered admission in September, and the school requests an answer by January 15th of the next year, you won’t have a chance to see your other offers before needing to respond.
Rolling Admission Tips:
- Complete your rolling applications first, if you can. Unlike regular admissions, your chances are better the earlier you apply, because spots at the college may fill up and admission may become more selective. Since there’s no advantage to submitting regular decision applications early (since they’re evaluated at the same time anyway), focus on rolling applications first and just make sure you get regular applications in by the deadline.
- Pay attention to “priority deadlines” and treat these as hard deadlines. Some colleges with rolling admission include these and make them sound almost optional, but it’s best to treat them as if they were firm deadlines.
- Plan ahead if you still have time. Take the ACT or SAT early so you’ll have time to repeat it (if necessary) and still get your rolling admission applications in at the beginning of the open period.
So on the whole....
Consider whether choosing a school with rolling admissions would be the right fit for you. There are advantages and disadvantages, just like any other process. Having an admission in your pocket already early in your senior year can make a huge impact on your academic mindset—or, you can decide to table your application until you have time to give it your full attention. Either way, rolling admission schools can be a great choice that is often overlooked.
The most important step is to know what your options are, so you can make fully informed decisions!