Preparing for College

Can Strong Student Apply to Private Colleges Post-Deadline?

Question: Is it possible to apply to a college after their deadline? My daughter was accepted to colleges like UCLA, Berkeley and Rice, but we can't afford them. Is it too late to find a small private college even after the deadline?

First of all, there are a number of private colleges whose deadlines haven't passed. You can hone in on some of them by using the Common Application's search engine that you'll find here: down the page until you spot the question about deadlines.)

This recent Examiner article by Washington-based independent counselor and admissions writer Nancy Griesemer might also be helpful:

In addition, shortly after May 1st, the National Association for College Admission Counseling will post their annual “Space Available Survey" that lists all schools that still have spots for September freshmen, even if their deadlines are long past. There are usually a few nationally-known colleges on this list … not Harvard or Yale of course, but typically some places whose names you and others will recognize. Many (but not all) will have financial aid available, too.

Meanwhile, it is definitely possible that other colleges will consider your daughter, even if she has missed the application deadline. This, however, will only be the case if she is a very strong candidate. However, if your daughter needs financial aid, this will diminish the odds that the colleges will consider her post-deadline unless:

-They did not get the “yield" they expected from their admitted class and thus have some money left in their financial aid budget


-Your daughter is an EXTREMELY strong candidate, with a GPA and test scores that will help boost their averages


-You won't need financial aid if the colleges you're considering are less pricey than UCLA, Rice, Berkeley, and any other places that may have admitted her.

Another possibility for your daughter might be a Gap year, which will buy her time to apply to more affordable colleges for a September 2013 start. While many official Gap-year programs can be pricey, she might want to consider City Year ( which actually pays students to participate (and not the other way around) and which will look good on applications. Given that your daughter was strong enough to get into the top schools you named, she should be an attractive candidate for City Year, too. The final application deadline is April 30, but some students applied via earlier deadlines which might mean that your daughter, if accepted, may not get her first choice city of the many City Year options.

City Year is part of the AmericaCorps network, and there may be other AmericaCorps programs that your daughter would prefer and which will also pay a stipend:

I'm sorry to hear that you're in a bind at this hectic time of year. But your daughter sounds like an excellent student, so she can find options that will work for all of you. Don't rush into anything that doesn't feel like the right fit.

(posted 3/30/2012)