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Rolling College Admissions May Be Your Late-App Solution

Don’t drop the ball: Rolling admissions deadlines usually close in February, or until all student seats have been filled.

Shawna Newman

January 15, 2021

Understand what rolling admission is, how it may help you if your applications have not been sent in and the colleges with flexible admissions.
Rolling College Admissions May Be Your Late-App Solution
For some high school students there is a concern about college this fall, as the Coronavirus pandemic still blankets the U.S. While most college application deadlines have passed, there is a solution for seniors considering college even if application(s) are not in yet. However, that timeline is dwindling as even schools with rolling admissions have some type of deadline. The rolling admissions deadlines usually close toward the beginning of February, or until all student seats have been filled. If you haven’t submitted your college application, you may consider applying to schools with rolling admissions at this point in the higher education admissions season.

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What is Rolling Admissions

Admissions officers at rolling-admission colleges look at each application as they arrive, rather than waiting to consider all applications received after the college’s established application deadline—AKA the typical, college admission season. Rolling admission is not an admission type you choose such as early admission or early action. Rather, it’s how a college chooses to manage their admissions calendars.

Rolling Admissions Benefits

The good news is, if you’ve waited to get in your application, picking a college that admits students via a rolling admissions process gives you time to get your application in and attend school this fall. There are three benefits to rolling admission:
  1. Flexibility
  2. With longer admission windows, you have more choices on when you could begin your first semester. If you’re still not sure about attending college this fall and would feel more comfortable attending mid-fall semester or during the spring, you could ask for a deferment. You also have time to make your final attendance decision as this type of admission does not require a contractual agreement like early admission does. Typically, May 1st is National College Decision Day, which would be your deadline for a decision. Last year decision day was pushed into June 1st due to the impact and uncertainty of COVID. There has not been an update on whether or not decision day will stay June 1st or revert to the traditional May 1st date. You can always check back for updates.
  3. Less Competition
  4. Your application will not be compared to a list of students. Rather, rolling admissions applications are evaluated as they come in. Also something to consider this year, is many colleges are not requiring standardized test scores for admission. If the college you’re applying for via rolling admissions is test optional, you’ll have less competition and comparison to be concerned about. President and CEO of the Common Application, Jenny Rickard, said “You don’t have to worry if you didn’t take a standardized test; the colleges want to hear from you” in a December NPR podcast. Adding, “Eighty-five percent of Common App college and university members are now test-optional or test-free.” Visit the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) to find a list of test-optional universities.
  5. Quicker Acceptance
  6. You’ll hear back quickly from colleges using a rolling method. The admissions teams evaluate each application as they come in rather than waiting for a specific date.

Colleges with Rolling Admissions or Later Application Dates

It’s important for you to visit the website of each college you’re applying for to get the details of their rolling admissions process and the window of time you have to submit your app. U.S. News and World Report has created a list of the top 11 U.S. schools with rolling admissions. Two from the list have a February 1, priority deadline, meaning you may have more university-specific scholarship opportunities if your application is submitted by the priority date:
  1. Purdue University – West Lafayette, Indiana
  2. University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  3. Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) – University Park, Pennsylvania
  4. Rutgers University) – New Brunswick, New Jersey
  5. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Minnesota
  6. Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana
  7. Michigan State University – East Lansing, Michigan
  8. Binghamton University (SUNY) – Binghamton, New York
  9. University at Buffalo (SUNY) – Buffalo, New York
  10. Arizona State University – Tempe, Arizona
  11. Saint Louis University – St. Louis, Missouri
Several of the same schools listed above appear on Niche’s list of 2021 Top Colleges with Rolling Admissions in America, as well. College board provides a comprehensive list of universities that offer application deadlines of January 15 or later.

Don’t Forget Your FAFSA

Students in their senior year, even considering college, should submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are on the fence about attending school this fall and later decide to enroll, you’ll want to have access to money to help you pay for school. If you don’t submit your FAFSA you’ll be missing out on your share of $150 billion in financial aid. It’s not too late to submit yours. Check with your high school counselor as many schools are now participating in FAFSA completion, state competitions!

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