Do Colleges Review Applications Before the Deadline?

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Do colleges wait until the deadline to start reviewing materials? Or do they review them as the students' applications are finalized (all documents received)? I ask this because I'm applying to a school with a Nov. 1 deadline but my stuff has been in since Oct. 1. The college notifies on Dec. 15. If they didn't start reviewing my file (and anyone else whose was in early) how are they going to consider thousands of applications in 45 days? It seems impossible considering there are only about 10 people listed on the admissions staff.

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