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Rolling Admissions and the College Process

By Brendan Conway updated on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Part of checking out college admission requirements is learning about admission deadlines, and in doing so you may find out that some of the schools you're applying to offer rolling admissions. It might sound a bit like the "Wheel of Fortune," but it can actually put the odds in your favor when it comes to getting accepted.

While many schools have a "hard" deadline for applications (meaning they won't accept those either postmarked or received after that date), colleges with rolling admissions accept applications until they've filled all the spots in their freshman class.

Rolling admissions in the college admissions process

Some schools go this route right from the start. As each application comes in, it's reviewed. Decisions are then made on a case-by-case basis and you'll usually hear back within 4 to 8 weeks.

However, there are some schools that accept applications under a rolling admission policy and then send out decisions all at once. Depending on whether they've found the students they're looking for, they may then continue to review applications — or not.

In certain situations, schools may use rolling admissions after the normal deadline. This can happen if they haven't yet granted admission to their targeted number of incoming students, and it could offer you an unusual second chance to get your application in. If you're down to the wire and want to know if applying is still a possibility, call the school's admission office. If they're still accepting applications, get yours in ASAP!

The process that a school follows in regard to its rolling admission policy likely depends on its overall college admission requirements.

If you want to know more about how to use rolling admissions, check out our other article.

The advantages of rolling admissions
There are some advantages to applying to colleges with rolling admissions.

  • If you've got your eye on a certain school, you can probably find out early if you've been accepted and adjust your application strategy accordingly. Keep this in mind when plotting out your overall college application plans and schedule.
  • Rolling admission policies offer you some flexibility if you applied to just one school and didn't get in, or if you want to add an extra safety school to your list.
  • There may also be less competition, but this depends on you. If you apply in December, the school won't wait until March to compare you with all the other applicants, and you could actually improve your chances of being accepted. Remember though, the reverse also holds true: the later you apply, the more competition there may be for fewer spots.

Click the link if you want to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of rolling admissions.

 

Financial aid and rolling admissions
Applying to a school with rolling admissions late in the game can also impact your financial aid offer. A school's admission and aid policies are not one and the same. If you're accepted after the free money's been doled out, you could be out of luck and limited to taking out loans.

Before you apply, call your potential school and find out what aid may be available to you. Knowing what you can expect to pay can help you fine tune your list. (For that reason, this is a good idea at any time during the college admission process whether you apply under "regular," rolling, or early admission.) To find out more about how financial aid and rolling admissions interact, follow the link.

No restrictions with rolling admissions
Unlike some early application policies, you're not restricted from applying to other schools when you apply to one with rolling admissions. In addition, some schools may not require you to make your final decision until May 1, under a practice known as the Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA).

If you're not applying to a CRDA school, the college may request your commitment before May 1, and possibly force you into making a decision before you hear from other schools. Make sure you'll be granted a delay, in the event that you need one; don't be afraid to request this kind of college admissions assistance. You don't want to be forced into committing to a school further down your list when you haven't yet heard from your top choices.

About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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