Written by Chris Hernandez
College application deadlines don’t have to be confusing. To simplify matters, we’ve created a guide with all the different types of application deadlines.
*This is a broad overview of applications; the best way to find a specific college’s requirements is to visit the college website.*
Below are the four major types of admission with their general college application deadlines.
Early Action (EA) is non-binding while still allowing you to apply early. This type of application is great for students who have their applications ready early, as it shows enthusiasm and preparedness. Apart from not getting it (applying) over with sooner, students who apply EA hear back earlier, giving them more time to make the right decision.
Some colleges offer EA as well as EA II, which is another round of Early Action before the regular application deadline, so it is important to watch out for and keep track of these deadlines.
Single Choice or Restrictive Early Action is very similar to EA with the only difference being that you can only apply early to one school.
This kind of application demonstrates to the school that it is your top choice, which is a factor that can affect your chances of getting offered admission.
Each college can have different types of restrictions, so it is important to read the fine print before applying.
Early Decision (ED) is binding, meaning you must enroll if accepted. Early Decision is similar to single-choice early action, as you can only ED to one university.
This type of application demonstrates enthusiasm, preparedness, and commitment. It is a fast application with a quick turnaround, deadlines are usually in November, and decisions are typically announced in December.
A student should only apply early if they are absolutely certain that they want to attend that school. ED lets a college know that a student has fully accepted that college, so if it accepts them, they must attend.
*Please note that you are able to apply for one ED and several EA’s simultaneously. Every school can have its own restrictions, so make sure to check the schools you are interested in to verify what your options are.*
Regular Decision is the most common type of college application deadline with due dates ranging from December to March and hearing back in April. This type of application is non-binding but also shows less interest and preparedness than the aforementioned, which may play a role in your admission.
As many colleges only offer Regular Decision applications, it is the most common route applicants go with.
Rolling admission means that there isn’t a defined deadline for applications. You can submit an application as early as you like and the college will accept applications until all spots are filled. This type of application is non-binding and doesn’t have specific dates, meaning you do not know when you will hear back.
However, colleges with rolling admissions tend to make their decision available very quickly, so there’s not much waiting.
One of the benefits of rolling admissions is that it allows students to apply both before and after the regular decision time frame. The application window could be open from August to August, so long as there are still vacancies. Typically, the spots are filled up by April.
One complication from this type of application arises from the fact that certain majors can fill up quicker than others, so you need to check with the department and research application trends according to your major to ensure there is still space.
The two “early” options (ED and EA) usually respond in December. For regular Decision schools, you will get your response sometime around April. Rolling admission gives you a quick decision whenever you apply as long as spots are available.
Remember, always contact a university’s admissions department for specific answers regarding college application deadlines.
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