Colleges open their admissions windows at different times to receive applications – the “early” window, the “regular” window, or the “rolling” window.  In an early decision or early action program they will entertain applications submitted early in the academic year, such as early fall, with a deadline usually set in or before the first week of November. In a regular decision program they will accept applications in the middle of the academic year, usually with a deadline in late December or early January.  And in a rolling program they will accept applications all year long, with rolling deadlines.

In turn, the dates when admissions decisions are rendered depend on the type of program the college uses and the application deadlines set in that program.

NOTE WELL:  No matter whether applying in a program that is “early” or “regular” or “rolling”, students should always check with the individual colleges involved for exact deadlines and application requirements.

Early Decision and Early Action
The two primary modes of “early” programs are known as Early Decision and Early Action.  Generally, if a college uses an early program, it employs either one or the other. 

Early Decision – An important stipulation connected to this type of application is that candidates agree that if they are accepted, they will attend.  And, upon acceptance, they must withdraw any outstanding applications to other colleges.  This is a binding commitment and often the candidate signs an official agreement.  Candidates usually apply before November 1 and get notified of the decision sometime in December.  Some colleges have two or more rounds of Early Decision, with the primary difference being different deadlines and notification dates. 

Early Action – Very similar to Early Decision in terms of deadlines and notification dates, with one major difference – candidates are not obliged to attend if accepted – there is no binding agreement. (But always check with the individual colleges to be certain.)

Often, colleges stipulate that students applying “early” may do so with only one college at a time.  In other words, students should not have two or more “early” applications of any form submitted to different colleges concurrently.   That is not to say, however, that students who apply “early” to one college may not apply at the same time to other colleges using a “regular” or “rolling” program.  (Again, check with individual colleges to be certain of specific requirements.)

Regular Decision
Candidates applying “regular decision” usually submit by a designated deadline before mid-January and are notified of the decision on or before April 1.  There are no obligations to attend if accepted with this application process.  Accepted students usually have until May 1 to tell the college if they will attend or not.

Rolling Admissions
Colleges that employ this type of program will accept applications on a “rolling” basis at any point during the year, consider them quickly, and render a decision in a matter of weeks.  Applications will be considered until all openings are filled.

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE