Reading Time: 2 minutes

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

Early Action Application Deadlines

If you are running early in gathering application materials, 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 means that you can ONLY apply to ONE school under single choice early action; if you are accepted, you are not bound to go there. The only potential downside: early action may bring an earlier notification deadline. Meaning, you may not be able to weigh all of your options before you accept or deny your admission.

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 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 110% 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.

Regular Decision

Regular decision is pretty standard. You will have will have one specific deadline (usually January or later). 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 list of colleges to apply to, be sure to make special note of the type of application deadlines they offer. 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 based on the deadline you choose.