Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

Not really

colleges normally start to read applications at the same day for regular decision applicants. unless you are apply early decision, no benefit to submit ahead of the deadline.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Deadlines are more than dates

In admissions, deadlines are more than dates. Colleges publish both deadline date and type. For example, the College of Charleston offers and Early Action November 1 deadline. Students are reviewed equally within deadline groups, regardless of submission date. So, College of Charleston applicants who meet the Early Action deadline of November 1 (whether the application is complete on September 15 or 11:59 p.m. on November 1). Submitting an application early offers students the advantage of confirming that materials have been received by the deadline. Most deadlines are "received by" dates, not "post-marked" dates. One caveat: some schools offer a Rolling deadline type, meaning that applications are reviewed as they are completed. When the class is full, the college stops offering favorable admission outcomes. Students should try to apply to schools with a Rolling deadline program by November 1.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Deadline details

If you are applying to a rolling admissions school, then by all means don't wait until the deadline. You could hear back within four weeks, it will put you in the queue for housing, class registration, financial aid awards, etc. This is a perfect example of why sooner is better when applying. For EA and ED applications, they will be read as a batch and all decisions communicated at the same time. However, don't wait until the night before, just in case there is a technical glitch. For regular deadlines some schools will track when you applied because they will use that information when putting you in line for other campus assignment details. Don't take a chance on missing out, submit asap.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Submitting Ahead of Deadline

I always like to see my students finish their applications ahead of schedule. That leaves ample time for proofreading and changes. However, submitting an application early is no guarantee that a school will look at it any sooner. After all, admissions reps are often out of the office traveling, especially during the fall. Depending on the college, there are specific times during which they read the numerous applications submitted by students. That said, students should be very aware of rolling admissions and early deadlines and pay close attention to the college's stated policies. Early acceptance or notification can be - but isn't necessarily - a competitive advantage for the candidate.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

Not if there is a true deadline. However, if the school operates under a rolling application policy then yes, an earlier application, one that fully and effectively portrays who you are, what you have done, and what you have to offer can definitely help. Indeed, it can allow the school to see early on that you are someone they want and they will probably jump on the chance to get you on board, hoping that their early interest in you will translate into an early commitment by you to them. However, if they have a definite deadline then early submission will have no impact. Rather, full consideration will be given to all applications that were submitted by the definitive deadline.

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

This really depends on the college. Some schools start to look at application as they come in, others wait until after the deadline to start reviewing applications. Some schools have a "preferred" deadline which is before the actual deadline. An example of this is Harvard whose deadline is in January, but they nicely ask that students submit in mid-December. Although, unless you thoroughly read their admissions website, you may not know this!

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

Unless the college reviews application on rolling basis it will usually not make a difference.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

Submitting your application early may help you to get in line for an interview. Interviews are useful whether they are informative or evaluative, not only as an opportunity for you to learn about the college, but also in demonstrating your interest in a specific college. Check the websites of the colleges on your list to learn how interviews are arranged--the invitation may be triggered by submitting your application or the institutional supplement.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

Probably, but timing isn't everything - content is.

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances?

Short Answer: Not really. Detailed Answer: Admissions offices work fast and furiously. Often the entrance guidelines (all those numbers that represent who will get in and who won't) aren't even established until well into the fall semester. In addition, admissions counselors who make the decisions (if a machine isn’t making them) aren’t off the road from recruiting at high schools until the middle to the end of October – sometimes even into the first week of November. With first-year application deadlines ranging from November 1 to December 15, that doesn’t give a limited admissions staff much time to review all the applications they have received – in many cases into the 10s of thousands. What is astonishing to me this cycle is how quickly these decisions are being generated this year. I am advising students who literally submitted their applications the day before (or the day of) the deadline this fall and who received their decisions within a week. In some cases the letters and emails announcing the decisions are poorly written, missing information that is promised (such as links), and just downright cold and cruel – unforgivably sloppy, no matter if it's good news or bad. This tells me that these institutions are either 1) mechanizing all their application decisions (no counselors see the actual files) or 2) they aren’t looking at any of the information that accompanies the application. So clearly, it doesn’t matter if you get your application in earlier. The fact is, they want to be able to tell their administration that their numbers look great this year, and be able to predict student life and academic needs for the next year, which is why they push for the apps to be in so early. But most institutions will continue to accept students on a “space available basis” long after their published deadlines. However, my advise, as always, is this: Don’t try to game the system. If they publish a deadline, try to stick to it or get your application in before it is due – particularly for a college you really, really want to get into. Regarding the FAFSA deadlines? Now THAT matters. Get your PINs now, and submit your FAFSA the beginning of January, using your estimated taxes to complete it (you can change that info later when you have the real figures.) That is a pipeline that you want to be in from the word “Go.”