The Application Deadline Diner
As a senior in high school, I remember hearing a lot of new vocabulary surrounding college applications. My school counselors, teachers, peers and the internet were talking about things like "early decision" as if I knew what that meant. Even worse, some people had already decided where they were going to college, and I hadn't even begun my application. Was I behind??? I thought applications were due in November? WHAT IS HAPPENING!
Does that sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. The different types of decisions can be tough to remember, and I really like hamburgers, so I decided to create a menu for you to choose from. Here's what's on the menu for deadlines this fall! Make sure to check out this fun infographic to keep forever and refer back to for reference. It truly is the meat of the content. Get it? Ha, okay, let's do this. For a quick summary- scroll to the bottom for a cool infographic on the bottom of the page.
The classic deadline. The equivalent of a Big Mac.
This is the deadline I thought of when I thought of completing "college applications." These are the applications that are due at the end of November, December and January. This application takes into account any SAT/ACT score through the fall, and some applications take your first semester senior year grades into account. It is a non-binding application, and is a great choice if you feel like your scores and grades could use an extra boost from test scores your senior year.
Although California State University (CSU) campuses and University of California (UC) campuses only accept applications on the Regular Decision timeline, they don't take your senior year into account!
You'll be notified by April 1st of the admissions decision.
First-come-first-served with a side of "apply early"
When a school has "rolling deadlines" that is like a green light flashing saying "APPLY EARLY!" The earlier you apply, the better your chance of acceptance, because admissions officers are taking applications on a first-come-first-served basis, rather than waiting for a deadline for every single applicant at once. In order to have the best chances of acceptance, apply mid-August.
A great benefit of rolling admissions deadlines is that colleges may still be accepting applications through July. If you don't get into your top schools, and it's April or May, check the universities with rolling admissions. They will most likely still be taking applications, and if you're a top applicant, you still have a good shot. Definitely take a look at their website to see if you can still apply!
More good news: you'll know about the admissions decision 2-3 weeks after applying.
The application that leaves room for seconds.
Early action is tricky, and should not be confused with "Early Decision" (see below). "Early Action" means you apply in November or January. It depends on the school, so check on each individual deadline. The catch? You can't send any grades or test scores retroactively. Whatever you send in the fall is what they will use to admit you, since they will be sending you an admissions decision quickly, and you are able to accept it early if you want to.
Although Early Action has the same acceptance rates as Regular Decision, the benefit of it is that you are able to have more time to decide which school you'd like to attend. You'll know the decision from the admissions office sooner than Regular Decision, and you will be able to take some time to mull it over and see what other acceptances come in.
Hot tip: Apply Early Action to your top 3-4 schools. It is so gratifying to know where you stand with your top choices early! But DO NOT apply Early Action if you want to include your senior grades or take the December SAT/ACT.
Why apply Early Action? You'll have your decision around Christmas, and can still apply to some Rolling & Regular deadline schools with these decisions in mind. In most cases, you don't have to commit to a college until May 1st, so you'll have plenty of time to decide.
Restrictive Early Action
The "you CAN sit with us, but only us" burger.
These deadlines typically happen around November, and - you guessed it- are more restrictive than any other deadline. How? Colleges that have Restrictive Early Action may not allow you to apply Early Action OR Early Decision to any other school. If you are interested in an application like this, please check the school's website, because each school is unique.
If you decide to go this route, you'll know about the admissions decision Mid-December.
The dreamboat burger.
If you apply Early Decision, you are committed to the school if you get in. Yes, it is a legal obligation, even if you don't get financial aid and can't afford the school. Early Decision is a big decision for a family. Only apply Early Decision if the school is your dream school!
Early Decision applications are due November or December, and you will hear back mid-December or early January.