Fall semester of senior year can be nerve-wracking while you’re working on all your college applications and making sure you get them in on time. What’s more, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get into your top-choice colleges. To help keep you on track, we’ve written descriptions of the most common types of application deadlines and what they entail. Look here to learn how to build your application list.
Early Decision deadlines are typically in October or November, and you’ll usually get an answer before winter break. It is a way of indicating to the college that it is your top choice and that you intend to enroll if you are accepted. If there’s one college that you have your heart absolutely set on and is your top choice, you might want to take advantage of the Early Decision application deadline if the college offers it. This is likely to increase your chances of getting in, and if you do get in, you get to relax during your second semester. The caveat? Early Decision is binding. If you are accepted to a college Early Decision, you must withdraw all your other college applications and commit to attending your Early Decision college. For this reason, you should only apply to a college Early Decision if you are sure that it is your top choice.
If you still need to take the SAT or ACT during your senior year then any early decision application might not be for you. See this about whether or not you should take the test again.
The timeline for Early Action is similar to that of Early Decision. The difference is that it is non-binding. In other words, even if you are accepted, you are not obligated to attend. Some schools split Early Action into Early Action I and Early Action II. The deadlines are usually between October and November and decisions are usually made between December and January. While you can only apply Early Decision to one school, you can apply Early Action to multiple schools. The caveat is that some schools only offer Single Choice Early Action, which is discussed below.
Single Choice Early Action
Single Choice Early Action is similar to Early Action in that it is non-binding, but is different in that it is exclusive to that school. In other words, if you’re applying to a school Single Choice Early Action, you cannot apply to other schools Early Action. While this type of application deadline is rare, it is a way of demonstrating your interest in the school, which can increase your chances of getting in.
Almost all colleges have a regular decision deadline, which is usually between December and January. You’ll usually get an answer starting in February or March, but definitely no later than April. Regular decision is non-binding and non-exclusive, so as long as you haven’t gotten into a college Early Decision, you can send out as many Regular Decision applications as you want.
Colleges with a Rolling Admissions cycle will accept applications all throughout the year until they fill capacity, so you could apply all the way through April or even the summer. However, the earlier that you submit your application, the better your chances of getting in. It is recommended that you submit Rolling Admissions applications around the same time you would a Regular Decision application. Rolling Admissions is non-binding and non-exclusive. The one caveat with Rolling Admissions is that specific programs might have specific deadlines, so be sure to check on these before you apply.
Rolling Admissions will buy you some additional time. You may want to think about superscoring your SAT & ACT scores during that time. Learn about superscoring here.
Having a solid understanding of the different types of application deadlines is important for planning out your college application process, and it keeps you on track during your fall semester.