Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

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Our counselors answered:

Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

Melissa Kunes
Senior Director, Office of Student Aid Penn State University

Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

Here is my video response to the question.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Early, Rolling and Regular

Applying early, rolling or regular is not a matter of guesswork. Colleges are very clear about their expectations and deadlines. If students formulate and narrow down their college list by the summer before their junior year, and can establish clear favorites, they can decide if and how they should apply. I remember hearing a college admissions director saying that "applying early should be a decision, not a strategy." However, in this competitive environment, I do differ to some extent. Students need to look at their junior year transcripts, test scores and preferences, consulting a counselor when needed, to make sure his or her plan of attack makes sense. It's a very competitive world. They should always know the difference between early, rolling and regular and remember that many colleges offer Early Decision 1 and Early Decision 2 options. These can be very good choices for the right student.

Lee Bierer
President College Admissions Strategies

Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

If you’ve been a solid performer through junior year then applying early action, which notifies you early of your decision but does not require a commitment until May 1st, is a great option. Early Decision, which is binding, can help increase your chances and you’re notified early. But the downside is that you need to notify all other colleges before they make their decisions, so you don’t know if you would have had any other choices. Rolling deadlines are trickier than they sound because many colleges will say they accept applications through April but because they notify students as applications come in, it is not unusual for a school to fill its class by February.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

College that admit highest number of early decision applicants

Newsweek recently published the statistics on colleges that admit the highest number if applicants via their Early Decision program. Following is the list: Dickinson College, Bucknell Davidson, Barnard College, Colorado College, Bates, Carleton College, Hamilton College, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Vassa, Williams, Northwestern, Middlebury, University of Pennsylvania Amherst, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Duke, Dartmouth

Michelle Aronoff
Guidance Counselor

You can never be too early

Early decision is a binding agreement, but even if you don't want to make that kind of commitment you should still apply as early as you can. Many colleges offer an Early Action option in which you don't have to commit yourself to the school, but you can still get your application reviewed early and receive an answer from admissions before they look at their regular admission candidates. In addition, some schools set earlier deadlines if you want scholarship consideration. These deadlines are usually sometime in November. Many students seem to think that if a college has rolling admissions there is no deadline and they can get the application in "whenever." When a school is rolling admissions they are reviewing applications as they are receiving them which means they are offering admission to other students before you have even gotten yours in. You want as little competition as possible when it comes to admissions so you should still get those is early! In fact, some schools with rolling admissions can fill their freshman class as early as February so don't wait! To be safe I would try and get all of your applications out by the end of November< regardless of the deadline.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

The sooner the better

I love rolling admissions. Submit your application and hear back usually within 4 weeks. How nice to have an offer in your hip pocket early in the process. I promise, the clouds will part, the sun will come out, life will be good! Early Action is another good option. It is non-binding and again, you'll know your status by the holidays. Another reason to apply EA relates to the rate of acceptance being higher at that time. Early Decision is binding and in my opinion, only for those who have known their whole life this is where they are meant to be. Teenagers are still exploring, changing their minds, subjective to new ideas; so to commit early in the game may not be to everyone's advantage. Plus, if financial aid is an issue, you've just lost an opportunity to compare offers. Regular admission gives you the most time to submit all of your materials. Deadlines tend to be around the February 1st timeframe. The pool will be largest at this time, so proceed accordingly.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Early Applications Are Best—But You Don’t Have to Commit

When to apply is a tough question. Early decision is best if a student is firm in their choice and financial concerns are not an issue. But if there is any uncertainty then regular decision, early action, or rolling are all appropriate options. Indeed, unless a strong senior performance might turn the tide, the earlier one can apply the better. Such an approach garners valuable timely feedback about how the application is being viewed in this particular cycle. Too, there is nothing like having a “home” even if it is not the top choice. In general, early is better.

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

Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

ED for some, & Early Action is recommended in most cases, but many schools have Rolling where you find out much quicker; avoid regular like the plague, unless there's no other option. The early applicant gets the ticket the quickest!

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

This totally depends. At some schools the admissions rate is higher during early admission seasons and at others it is exactly the same as during regular admission. If your top choice school admits a larger percentage of students early and you are not concerned about comparing financial aid awards with other schools, I would probably encourage a student to apply early. It is important to understand the differences between ED, EA, and single choice EA and to discuss your strategy with an advisor.

Chris Powers
College Counselor and Philosophy Teacher Powers College Counseling

Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

It all depends on your credentials, the selectivity of a school, and your ambitions. I am ready to talk about this crucial decision.