Rolling admission, which allows you to submit your application earlier and therefore get a response sooner, offers a number of benefits for the college-bound student. But as with the regular applications you're submitting, there are several steps you need to take before applying in order to fully take advantage of what rolling admission has to offer. Here are three steps to follow to ensure you realize the full benefit of rolling admission.
1. Remember Your Deadlines
This first step might seem counterintuitive — rolling admission offers more flexible deadlines, doesn't it? Well, yes and no! Some schools accept applications throughout the year while others have a set application window. Take note of this during your research so you don't let the date pass you by!
Plus, even if the deadline for your application has more flexibility, that doesn't mean all of your important deadlines will adjust accordingly. In fact, most of them won't! The financial aid deadline is usually set in stone, so I recommend filing your FAFSA as soon as you can after it becomes available on October 1. Much of that money is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and you (perhaps literally) can't afford to submit later on this one. Additionally, don't forget about any scholarships you may be applying for. Those will usually have application deadlines all their own!
2. Submit Rolling Applications First (and with Care!)
You'll often be able to submit applications for rolling admission as early as July, and some schools will continue taking them as late as April. Rolling admission can offer you a leg up on your competition, but you'll only have that advantage by submitting earlier within the application window. Since seats are filled as applications come in, if enough students submit before you, those seats may already be taken by the time an admissions officer gets to your name. Therefore, you should aim to submit your rolling admission applications first.
Keep in mind, though, that any competitive advantage from submitting early will be completely nullified if you send in a poor application. Give all of your applications the same amount of time and effort — which is to say, as much as you can! (This is your future we're talking about!)
3. Plan Your Test Prep Ahead of Time
It's not uncommon for college-bound students to take the SAT or ACT multiple times. Sometimes it can be integral to test, prep some more, and test again in order to snag the score your dream school is looking for. And that doesn't change just because a school works on rolling admission!
If you're planning to submit to a school that operates this way, take the test for the first time in the fall of your Junior year. That'll give you the option to retest in the spring should you need to. (If you haven't yet, it's always a good idea to sign up for a free practice test to start your prep off right!)
It's important to get every advantage you can during the college process, and that always takes a bit of proper planning and strategy! For more tips on smooth sailing through the college admission process, check out our book College Admission 101 and our College Admission 101 YouTube playlist.