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When it comes to application deadlines, timing is everything. As you are applying to college, you may encounter a few different types of application deadlines. Read on to learn about the different choices associated with submitting applications and receiving admissions news.

Early Action Application Deadlines

If you have a head start on your application season, early action may be for you. Early action application deadlines typically fall between October and December. This means admissions will notify you significantly earlier than regular decision applicants.

You also may encounter single choice early action. This option allows you to hear back from your first-choice school early.  A potential downside: you may be required to make a decision earlier than usual, and that may prevent you from weighing all your options. 

Early Decision Application Deadlines

Much like early action, early decision applications are due between October and December. The BIG difference: early decision is binding. This means, you can apply to only one college under the early decision plan. If accepted, you have to withdraw all other applications and commit to attending that school. You only want to apply early decision if you are sure that school is the one for you.

Keep in mind, you should inquire about financial aid before submitting your application. What if you’re accepted, but not given enough financial aid? Would that be grounds to withdraw your acceptance?  The perk of early decision is the potential increase in your chance of acceptance. A college would rather accept someone who is certain they want to attend vs. an applicant who is still exploring their options. Being admitted and committed early will free up your spring to apply for scholarships and enjoy the rest of your senior year, but it is a big decision so be sure to talk to your family and counselor before applying with this application type

Regular Decision

Regular decision is pretty standard. You will have one specific deadline (usually January or later). Typically with regular decision, all applicants find out their admissions decisions on a specific date. For this plan, submitting your application earlier isn’t necessarily to your advantage (other than peace of mind).

Rolling Admissions

Rolling admissions means applications are accepted within a range of dates, and decisions are made as applications come in. With rolling admissions, the ball is in your court. The earlier you apply, the earlier you will know. Procrastination is tempting since these final deadlines can be pretty late. But you don’t want to apply too late because you run the risk of certain types of financial aid running out. Applying earlier may also give you a better chance of acceptance since fewer spots are filled. 

On-the-Spot Admissions

A few colleges will offer on-the-spot admissions events. At these events, you will complete your application and bring necessary materials (test scores, transcripts etc). You will then wait a few minutes for the evaluation of your application, and find out your decision. This can be a super convenient way to speed up an often long and drawn-out process. Remember, just because the school makes a decision that day, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to make your decision that day, too.

As you are creating your college list, be sure to take note of the type of application deadlines offered by each school. Once you have your list completed, compare all the schools side-by-side. This will make it easier to create a timeline for tackling each individual application!