What is Meant by “Rolling Admissions?”

The term “rolling admissions” refers to the selection process many colleges and universities use in which students may apply at any time during an open period and typically expect to be notified of acceptance within a few weeks. The application period often goes from early fall until sometime in the summer. This has become a popular option in contrast to traditional admissions in which there is a set deadline and no students are advised of acceptance until after that time. Few highly selective schools use this method of admission, but some do. Keep reading to learn more about the process and the best advice regarding applying to institutions that use this model.

General Advice

It’s important to understand that procrastination is not advisable despite the fact that applications may be accepted into the summer months. The fact is that students are only accepted until all open spaces for the upcoming semester are filled. Therefore, it is possible to turn in your application too late even though you didn’t miss the cutoff date. Often, institutions have a priority date. After this date, applications are considered only as long as space is available. However, it is possible to obtain admission later to a school with fewer applications, which can be helpful if circumstances prevent you from applying early.

Reasons to Apply Early

Colleges and universities that utilize a regular admissions process usually don’t notify students of acceptance until March or April for the following fall semester. An advantage to rolling admissions is that you could know as soon as nearly a year in advance about your acceptance status, allowing you to adequately prepare if you are accepted to your top choice school or providing the assurance of admittance to your “safety school.” Early applicants often get first choice with regard to housing assignments. In addition, applying as soon as possible gives you plenty of time to begin researching scholarships and other sources of aid. Finally, in the event you apply early on and don’t receive admission, you’ll still have time to apply to other schools.

Why You May Not Want to Apply Late

As the saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm.” This is true of a rolling admission cycle. If you are applying to a competitive academic program, it’s likely that seats will fill prior to the application deadline. In fact, those who wait too long may find there are no spaces left even for undeclared majors. Most students depend upon financial aid of some sort, and these programs do have deadlines. Scholarships can be hard to come by later i the year, and even federal aid has cutoff dates. While applying early in the process can score you a coveted housing assignment, waiting until the last minute is likely to lead to an unfavorable living situation. You could even find yourself ineligible for campus housing if it has all been filled. Remember, upperclassmen usually get first pick when it comes to living quarters.

As you can see, schools that offer admissions on a rolling basis can add a number of options to your college application process. Rolling admissions can also have drawbacks for those students who tend to procrastinate.

See also: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit