Admissions

What You Need to Know When Applying to Colleges with Rolling Admission

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Rolling admissions give applicants a large window in which to apply to colleges, but your chances of being accepted are at their highest if you apply as early as possible. Here's what you need to know about rolling admissions.



What's Rolling Admission, and How Does It Differ From Other Deadlines?

Colleges that use rolling admission review applications as they come in during a window of usually six months of longer. Some colleges have a deadline for rolling admissions, but most keep accepting applicants until all available spots for that admission cycle are filled. You can typically expect to hear the status of your application within four to eight weeks, or even sooner. Take a look at the chart above to see how it compares to other application options on average.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Applying Rolling Decision?

Just as with other application options, there are pros and cons to consider with rolling admission. Weigh these factors and consider your specific situation to come up with a strategy.

Pros

  • Answers Come Quickly — Because of the quick turnaround between submission and decision, you can have viable options secured before you're even accepted into other schools.
  • Better Odds if You Move Fast — If you're on top of your applications, submit your rolling admission apps first. Since this process evaluates and offers acceptance on a first-come first-serve basis, your chances of acceptance are higher earlier on in the process.
  • Keeps Your Options Open — Rolling admission is non-binding, so you can apply early, weigh your choices, and be confident in your final choice!
  • A Second Chance — If you've applied to other schools and the outcome wasn't what you hoped or you've missed other application deadlines, rolling admission is your second chance! You can still apply after other admissions deadlines and still might be able to get accepted.

Cons

  • High Competition — The fewer the spots available, the harder it is to get in. If your application comes in after all the spots have been filled, you'll be out of luck, even if you're a great applicant.
  • Timing — The earlier you submit, the less opportunity you have to improve your SAT or ACT score, to polish your essay one more time, or to get recommendation letters. If you haven't been planning ahead, you may find yourself scrambling to submit a subpar application, which is never a good idea.
  • Other Factors Aren't Rolling — If you're looking to live in campus housing or be considered for financial aid, you'll need to meet the deadlines assigned by the school. These resources probably won't have rolling deadlines, and you should plan to apply for them on time.
  • Motivation — The lack of deadlines or pressure can be challenging if you're someone who procrastinates. To make rolling admissions work for you, you need to find a way to keep yourself focused on getting your apps in, and ideally early.

Check School-Specific Guidelines

A final reminder: Not all colleges treat rolling admissions in the same fashion. You should definitely keep our suggestions in mind, but always be sure to check with every school to which you're applying and confirm their process. If you're strategic about it, rolling admission can work to your advantage. For more on the college application process, check out our book, College Admission 101, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for weekly content to help answer all of your admissions questions.