Though there are deadline differences between rolling admissions, early admissions and regular admissions, typically the answer to when you should apply is as early as possible. If you are looking at early vs regular decision, research the acceptance rates for both options at your preferred schools.
Rolling admission means colleges and universities evaluate applications as they come in and admit students throughout the year, vs all at the same time. This allows schools to admit more students as space becomes available, rather than turning away qualified applicants because the school has already reached its enrollment limit.
There are a few benefits of rolling admissions for students. One is that it may make the admissions process less competitive, as schools are more likely to take a wider range of students throughout the year. Additionally, rolling admissions could provide more flexibility for students who may not have their applications ready by the regular deadline. Finally, it can be a more relaxed process overall, as students won’t have to wait as long to find out if they’ve been admitted.
Rolling admissions is different from early action and decision in a few key ways. First, with rolling admissions, students do not need to have their applications in by a certain deadline to be considered. Typically, early action applications are due sometime in November. Regular admissions applications also have a deadline, but later in the year than early action.
Second, rolling admissions schools will notify students of their decision on a rolling basis, vs all at once. This is also different from early decision where students are committed to the school they applied to.
We asked our counselors, and they agree:
Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?
The most important way to decide when to apply is to figuring out what all these terms actually mean so you can figure out which deadline most suits your needs. So here’s a brief overview of what these admissions deadlines really mean:Early Action – This is an earlier application deadline, usually in the fall, that allows a student to get an answer on whether they have been accepted sooner than the typical spring decision dates. Students who apply Early Action usually hear back in December or January about whether they have been admitted to a school. Students can be waitlisted or rejected from Early Action, but can still be considered under the Regular Decision pool. Applying early also lets a school know you are interested in them. It is important to note that those students applying under an Early Action Deadline who are accepted, are not bound by any agreement and can choose not to commit to that school in the future. This simply gives students an earlier idea of which school’s they’ve been accepted to.
Early Decision/Early Admissions – Early decision is similar, in that students apply in the fall and hear back quicker about whether they have been accepted or not. However, Early Decision students are committed to that school. Therefore, if you apply to a school Early Decision and get in, you are effectively stating that you will be enrolling in the school the following Fall – you have committed to that school. Just like in Early Action, students can be waitlisted or rejected from Early Decision but may be considered during the Regular Decision period. Students applying early also let the school know they are very interested in attending.
Regular Decision – This is the typical and final deadline for all students wishing to apply to a certain school. Everyone has until this date to apply to the school to be considered for admission. This date usually happens in late winter/early spring. (February and March are common months for this deadline.) All students receive their acceptance letters around the same time (unless under rolling admissions which is described below) and have until “Decision Day” (usually April 15th) to decide which school they will enroll in.
Rolling Admissions – This means schools accept students as they receive applications. Regular decision schools hold all applications and then make admissions decisions all in one big pile. Rolling admissions accepts or rejects students as they receive their applications. (Students can still be waitlisted under rolling admissions.) At larger schools this generally means that the sooner you can get your admissions packet in the better. At Community Colleges, and other small schools, this means that there is no application deadline whatsoever and that students can apply later and still be admitted. (Community Colleges often let students apply until right before classes.) If you are a transfer student, many schools allow you rolling admissions as you complete coursework at different rates and schedules.
Students should apply early in the application period.
Apply Early Decision if the college is your first choice, if you are a solid candidate when compared to prior year’s freshman profile and if you do not have to consider a financial aid award. Apply Early Action whenever possible, especially if you are a solid candidate. You will appreciate hearing from colleges by mid-December. If you are accepted to your top choice(s), hooray! If not, you have time to mourn the loss and move on to your other choices. If applying to Rolling Admission colleges, apply early in the cycle to avoid being locked out because they are full rather than based on your qualifications. When applying Regular Decision, apply early in the cycle so as to avoid the rush to meet deadlines.
By applying early in the cycle, students get the benefit of “fresh” admission committees who have not yet been burned out by uninspired essays and lackluster presentations. These applicants leave the impression that they are ready, willing and able to submit their applications and that they are eager for a response. Early responses give families time to plan Winter and Spring visits and allow students to enjoy senior year without the stress of college applications.
When as college offers rolling admission, the earlier you apply, the sooner you will know the answer; also, admissions people generally have more time to look at your application during the first semester than in the second semester, when most of the thousands of applications come in. Early Decision, because it’s binding, is only for students who know beyond any doubt that a specific school is for them – if every school you would apply to were to accept you and you would still choose this one, then you might be ready to apply ED. Early Action is not binding, and gives you a chance to know the admissions decision in December without any obligation to attend that school; it’s a good thing for most students. Regular decision is when the vast majority of students apply, either because they just can’t get the applications done in time for early deadlines, or because they are not sure by November where they want to apply. Which is best for you depends on your plans and how committed you are to your list.
Deciding on when to apply to a university really depends on the interest of the student, when they want to find out their place at a particular campus, and whether or not the student will need financial aid (outside of federal student loans) to attend if accepted. The trends are clear that more students are applying into Early Admissions and Early Decision in hopes of securing their “spot” or moving onto another school of choice.
Time To Decide On A Plan: Will It Be EA, ED, REA, S-CEA, Rolling or Regular Deadline?
You will need to know what rules the colleges on your list provide for applyingand spend some time choosing which plan works best for you. Every college anduniversity has its own admission requirements, policies and procedures with unique deadlines, plans and programs for admitting students. You don’t want to be rejected from a school based on a technicality!
So What’s Your Plan?College admissions plans are structured based on how colleges are going to admit your class. Depending on how selective the college is and how it makes admission decisions, your work and the application process will need to shift to meet the deadlines. Strategizing on how to prioritize you application plans will have an impact on your “Calendar for Filing Applications”.
Here are descriptions of the various college admission plans:Rolling AdmissionsThis plan is often used by less selective colleges and many State Universities. Students are evaluated for admission soon after their application files are completed. Colleges with rolling admission have final application deadlines. You will usually receive your answer in 3-4 weeks after filing. Some colleges have a cut-off date for their first group of applications and then set up a “set response date” for their rolling admissions decisions, such as a mid-December for students who applied in that first round of applications. Complete your college application early in the admission season, since later applicants may be up against fewer open spaces than earlier applicants. This is particularly true at very popular or more selective state institutions.Regular AdmissionThis is the most common option among colleges and universities. This is a firm date and any applications filed after the deadline are not considered. The majority of regular admission deadlines occur between December 1 and March 15. Most students find out if they are accepted in March or April and make their final decision, notifying the college of their choice by May 1st .Early NotificationThis admission plan, also called early evaluation, is offered by some colleges that admit students under the regular admission plan. Because such schools usually notify students of their admission decisions in early to mid-spring, early notification lets you know your application’s preliminary status. Some selective colleges use this practice for students whom they view as “choice” candidates for their school.Early Action-EAUsed by some Ivy League and other selective institutions, early action plans require you apply to the college or university early, usually between late October and late November of your senior year of high school. As an early action candidate, you will most likely be notified of your acceptance, denial, or deferment by mid-December. You can apply EA to several colleges and continue to file applications to one ED and all of the colleges that have rolling or regular admission.Restrictive Early Action-REASome institutions have adopted single-choice early action policies that restrict applicants from applying early action or early decision to another college or university. If accepted under this plan, students have until May 1st to accept or turn down the offer of college admission.Single Choice-Early Action for Freshman Applicants-S-CEAIf you would like an admissions decision by mid-December, you may apply under a Single-Choice Early Action program. The program is like other non-binding plans in that candidates who are admitted early need not respond to the offer of admission until May 1, and may apply to other schools for Regular Decision. Being admitted early would, for example, still allow you to compare offers of financial aid in the spring.This Early Action plan (often called S-CEA) is unlike many other programs in that if you apply for Single-Choice Early Action, you may not simultaneously apply for Early Action or Early Decision to any other school with a few exceptions. If you apply early, you will be asked to sign the Single-Choice Early Action Agreement on the Supplement stating that this application is the only Early Action/Early Decision application you intend to file.Early Decision-EDIf you decide to apply early decision, you must abide by the deadline, which is usually at least six weeks earlier than the regular deadline. The majority of early decision deadlines occur between mid-October and mid-November. Students are then notified of the institutions’ decisions by mid-to-late December. With admission under this plan, if you get in, you must accept the offer at once. You are bound to that school and will need to withdraw all other college applications. Only use this option if you are 100% sure you want to go to that school.
As soon as you have all of your materials ready and your applications completed, send them away; in other words, as soon as possible. Why? Aside from the obvious point of there being a lot of spots available when you apply early, your chances for merit scholarships are higher.
When it comes to early decision, be 100% sure that if you are accepted to that school you will definitely attend. If you change your mind, you will be presented with more headaches than it is really worth. If a school has the early action option, definitely apply. Not only will you find out if you were accepted at an earlier date than those applying regular decision (you typically find out before your winter break), but you can also change your mind without being burdened with the obligations that early decision places on you.
Best of luck!
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!
Do what is best for you taking into consideration your own unique situation. Dead-set on a certain university? Have you visited, done your homework over time, don’t need to compare financial aid awards, and decided it is a great fit academically and otherwise? Then apply early decision. Really like a few schools but maybe aren’t so sure of which one you like best? Maybe your essays need work or maybe you need the fall semester to get your grades up a bit. Then apply regular decision. If you find yourself somewhere in between, early action could be an option. Either way (ED or EA), make sure you are very clear to differentiate between binding vs. non-binding agreements.
Applying early can have its advantages. It shows colleges and universities your desire to attend a particular school and submitting applications lifts a weighty burden for many seniors. Receiving an offer of admission before winter break is exciting and further reduces college-planning stress.
However, there are times when applying early can be a bad thing. Some early options are binding. Students admitted under a binding program do not leave themselves options in case circumstances or interests change. Additionally, binding programs force a commitment before families have a chance to review financial aid offers, eliminating the chance to compare costs. Some students are just not prepared to apply early and submit weaker materials in their haste. You should understand all early options and their restrictions before applying.
Early application varies greatly over different schools. Some schools have an early decision policy, which means that if you apply early and get in, you are committed to going to that school and cannot go anywhere else. Naturally, you can only apply to one early decision school at a time, lest you end up in an awkward situation.
Early action is simply applying early, but you can make your decision whenever you like, and you are not committed to going. Some schools only offer this to in state students, some to all their students. Some schools have a policy where if you apply early action, you cannot apply early elsewhere, though you can make your decision whenever you want.
Few schools have rolling admissions, this tends to be used for graduate schools more often.
Here are a few things to think about when deciding when to apply:– Early application tends to have a higher acceptance rate. Especially among schools who use early decision or the limited early action described above, the school takes it as a sign that they are your number one choice if you apply early, because you would rather apply early there than anywhere else, and in the case of early decision, the school knows you will attend if they admit you.– Early application means less stress because you will have fewer schools to worry about in December. Most early decision and early actions schools try to respond to you before December so that if you get in you don’t have to apply to any other schools if you don’t want to!– Applying early is a great way to show your top school how much you care. It’s worth doing for your top school! If your top school allows you to apply to other schools early as well, apply to as many as you can. You will thank yourself in December when all your friends are freaking out about applications.
The answer depends on where you wish to apply – there is no one canned answer to this. There is no reason not to take advantage of early action applications – you apply early and find out early, without having to commit until May 1. Remember this is different than early decision, which is a binding application sent to one school.
As with so many aspects of the college admissions process, this depends on the individual. There are some benefits to applying early, including a “competitive edge” and the ability to receive a decision from the college(s) well before the usual March date. The drawbacks are that you have to submit your application early (obviously!) and, in the case of Early Decision applications, you are entering into a binding agreement that you will attend the college if admitted.
Many students find that regular decision applications give them the most breathing room in terms of submitting apps and keeping their options open. It’s up to you to decide whether the perks of early admission are worth the drawbacks.
If rolling admission is an option, there is flexibility as to when you apply, but don’t take this as an indication that there are no deadlines at all; even schools with rolling admissions often have deadlines for “priority admission” and scholarship consideration, and it’s always in your best interest to submit your application well in advance of those dates.
If the school has rolling admissions, you generally would be best off applying as early as possible. If you expect to show significantly improved grades or test scores from early in your senior year, you may need to hold off.
There are two types of early admission.— Early action is not usually binding. Generally, it is to your advantage to apply early and you will hear sooner whether you have been accepted.— Early decision is usually binding. You should only apply early decision if you are sure what your number one school is, if you can commit to the school without knowing what your financial aid package will be, and if you don’t want to compare financial aid packages from other schools.
If you are not applying rolling or early, you will be applying regular decision.
It all depends on your credentials, the selectivity of a school, and your ambitions. I am ready to talk about this crucial decision.
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.
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.
It depends on the student’s profile. If the student’s academic record has been consistent since 9th grade, he or she has completed all standardized testing by the end of junior year, and has a definite first choice school which matches their academic profile, they should apply early, usually a November 1st deadline. Many state colleges have rolling admissions and if applying to a college with rolling admissions, the student should complete the application sooner rather than later. For many colleges, the admit rates for early or regular admission are not very different and so regular is advised particularly if the student’s grades from the fall of senior year are likely to be much stronger and or they will not complete the required ACT or SAT tests until the fall.
Every student is different. Every college is different. I tell my students, “If you’ve come out of the womb wanting College X then apply early.” Of course if early is early decision you need to be careful. If ED, you are going unless you receive insufficient financial aid. Early action – go for it. Always make sure you fit the profile for the early round. If you don’t fit the profile then regular decision may be the way to go. Check to see what happens if denied early – are you rolled over to regular admission or denied outright. Do your homework and ask questions.
It is always wise to apply early. Early Action will not bind you to the university but will let you know by January if you were accepted. If you absolutely know where you want to go you can apply Early Decision, but that decision is binding. If you are accepted, you MUST attend that college. Even if a college does not have an Early Action date, the earlier you apply the better.
if you are ethletic, you are told to apply early.if you are suggested to apply early by your prep school counselor, you may do so without questions.rolling admissions normally showed gap in terms of the qualify of students to apply.regular is used for students to compare financial aid package.
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.
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.
Early Decision is a restrictive application plan which represents a full commitment on your behalf. You should only apply ED if you are absolutely sure about your first choice school. Also, think about the fact that you will not be able to compare financial aid packages as you would be able to if applying regular decision. Restrictive Early Action (limited to one school with some exceptions), Early Action, Regular and Rolling Applications are non-restrictive application plans which means that you can apply anytime prior to the stated deadline. Colleges utilizing REA, EA and rolling admission usually send their decision fairly quickly. In each type of non-restictive application plan, the student is allowed until the official deposit day of May 1st to decide on his school.
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
There are four kinds of college admissions: early action, early decision, regular admission, and rolling admissions.
My number one tip, before anything else, is to make sure you check deadlines for all your colleges to ensure that you do not miss your chance to submit your application. With that said, when you apply depends on the deadlines for each college and how interested you are in attending each particular college.
If you have a TOP school that you want to go to no matter what, then you should apply for the Early Decision deadline. Take note, however, that Early Decision is binding. Meaning that you agree to attend the college if you are accepted and the financial aid you are offered is sufficient. You can apply to other colleges, but once you are accepted into Early Decision at a college you must withdraw all other applications.
Early Action is similar to Early Decision, except it is not binding. Students can apply Early Action to more than one college. They will be notified early on in the year (usually in December or early January) whether they have been accepted or not.
Regular Admission is the standard application deadline, which is usually between December 1st and January 15th (some colleges have deadlines as far as February 15th). The advantage of applying Regular Admission is that the student has more time to prepare the application and gather necessary documents. However, students have less of a chance of being accepted than if they had applied Early Action, and they will not be notified of acceptance until April or May.
Rolling Admissions is not used by all colleges. Basically this is for students who are submitting their applications at the point where the college is considering them on a first come, first serve basis. Colleges with rolling admissions accept students as long as space is available.
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.
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.
There are two distinctive advantages to applying Early Action at some institutions, namely increased odds of admission and better opportunities for need-based and merit-based financial aid. Early Decision (ED) can offer the same advantages, but is significantly more restrictive. Students applying ED must enroll if accepted. Therefore, students should be certain that they want to attend (and in some cases, can afford) the college to which they apply ED.
If a student is applying to an institution with rolling admission, they should apply as early as possible to receive the same admission and aid-relate benefits detailed above. One possible exception to this rule is if students earned less than satisfactory marks earlier in their high school career and must use the fall and spring semesters of their senior year to demonstrate improvement and growth.
It is imperative that students NOT applying early still meet any regular decision deadlines at their prospective institutions. Failing to apply by an indicated regular decision deadline often disqualifies a student from admission consideration.
If you have great grades and have completed taking your SAT/ACT/Subject exams by October you should definitely do Early Action if the school offers it. A college will not offer regular decision and rolling. If they offer Regular Decision only then just make sure you get everything in to the college (including sending scores!) by their RD deadline. If a school is rolling then they are first come first serve so the earlier you apply the better! Definitely apply to rolling schools by Thanksgiving at the latest. If a school offers EA and rolling do EA – you will likely get your decision back faster. As for Early Decision, this should be something the entire family discusses since your family financial situation comes into play when committing to a school.
Here is my video response to the question.
Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.
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