College Admissions Options for the Application Process

Colleges generally offer prospective students multiple options when it comes to the application process. Once you have decided on your final choices, check the admissions policy and the deadlines for each college on your list. Doing so will give you a better understanding of your application timeline. Whatever option you choose, you should submit your application(s) by Thanksgiving of your senior year to give you the best opportunities for admission, scholarships and financial aid. Even if you don’t get accepted, you will know your application status by January, which will give you time to go with a back-up plan, which we will discuss later.

There are a few types of admissions that your college may offer. Do your research to find out your potential school’s admissions options and deadlines. Keeping track of these deadlines will prevent you from missing out on opportunities for application, scholarships and/or financial aid.

Regular Admissions

This is the most common application process for four year colleges and universities. You must submit your application by a specific date, typically between November and January. All the applications are reviewed and acceptance or rejection letters are typically mailed out on the same date. If you apply by November through the early application process, you will find out by January if you have been accepted. This admission process is non-binding, since it is widely available and you don’t have to attend schools that accept you. If you were not accepted, you will want to follow through with a back-up plan, which could be through a school’s rolling admissions in order to enroll by the Fall semester.

Rolling Admissions

Schools that have rolling admissions allow students to apply at any time during the school’s admission period, which is typically September through July. This process is also non-binding like regular admissions. The college will evaluate each application and send out acceptance letters to all students who meet the school’s requirements. For this application process, you will want to submit your application as soon as possible, since admission is granted on a first-come, first serve basis. Rolling admissions can be a back-up plan if you were not accepted to your first round of applications, since schools will continue to accept your application later in the year. Check with the school you are applying to, since particular programs may have specific deadlines that don’t adhere to the rolling admissions policy of the school.

Early Admission Options

There are options for you to apply to your choice college earlier than the normal application process. If you have one or two colleges on the top of your list, you should consider early decision or early action admissions. If you are positive about enrolling, early admissions is a good choice for you. Applying through early admissions lets your top school know that they are your first choice, which could increase your chances of acceptance. Schools want to accept students who they know will actually enroll in classes, and applying through early admissions is a way to show them you are committed.

Early Decision

Early decision is one type of early admissions. With this admissions program, you are 100 percent committing yourself to this school if you are accepted, and you can’t apply to other schools. If you receive a letter of acceptance, you have to withdraw all other applications to other schools since this option is binding. With this option, you need to be absolutely certain you want to attend this school. Talking to your guidance counselor is a good idea before applying through early decision. The benefit to early decision if that if you apply by November, you will know the school’s decision by December. It is a great route to go if you are positive about the school you want to attend, since you will have your final decision before students who apply through regular admissions.

Early Action

Similar to early decision, you are only applying to your top schools through early action. The big difference is that you are not obligated to the school that you apply to, and you can apply to multiple schools through early action. You can accept the school’s offer immediately or wait to hear back from the other colleges you applied to. Early action is a better option if you are not completely certain of the school you want to attend, and you want to apply to more than one top school. Early action has the same benefit as early decision, in that you will have the school’s decision by December if you apply by November, but you are not bound to the school that you have been accepted to.

Pick the best admissions option that works for your situation. Most importantly, pay attention to each school’s deadlines and policies to make sure you are applying on time, no matter which option you choose. Staying on top of school policies and deadlines will ensure a smooth path in the application process.

If you need help with the college admission process, Optimum Ed can help! Give us a call @800-457-1364 or send us a message.


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