What Is Rolling Admissions? When Should You Apply?

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Rolling admissions allows students to apply to college on almost a first-come, first-served basis. The earlier you apply, the earlier you hear back, and the more likely you are to get in.

 

A number of schools use rolling admissions, including some of the US’s top colleges and universities. So, exactly what is rolling admission? And when should you apply to ensure the best results? Keep reading to find out whether this application option is right for you.

 

What is Rolling Admissions?

 

Most schools accept applications during a limited period of time (usually a few months in the fall) and wait until their application deadlines have passed before they begin making admissions decisions. Commonly known as regular decision, this practice requires all students to submit their applications by a particular date (usually around the beginning of January). Once all applications have been received, the college or university makes its admission decisions based on the full pool of applicants and notifies students by a particular date (typically in March), allowing students a few weeks to weigh their options and make a decision about whether or not they plan to attend.

 

Other institutions accept applications on a continuing basis throughout the year. This practice is known as rolling admissions. Schools that use rolling admissions respond to applications as they come in, often informing students of whether they’ve been accepted or rejected within four to six weeks. In most cases, schools with rolling admissions don’t have official deadlines, but timing still matters when applying. 

 

When Is the Best Time to Apply in Rolling Admissions?

 

One of the benefits of rolling admissions is that students have the opportunity to apply to schools later, maybe even after receiving rejections from other institutions. Still, it’s a mistake to assume that schools with rolling admissions have less rigorous admissions requirements or lower standards. In fact, students applying to these institutions should strive to get their applications in as early as possible. Since rolling admissions colleges evaluate applications as they receive them, they may have a limited number of spots available for those who apply later. Admissions standards may also be higher the longer you wait, as colleges will need to be more selective in allocating limited spots.

 

Additionally, applying early can help you receive an admissions decision more quickly. Some rolling admissions schools, including Pennsylvania State, have priority application deadlines. Students who apply by this date will receive an answer sooner than those who miss the deadline. These priority deadlines are often hard deadlines for students planning to apply for financial aid and scholarships as well as honors and accelerated programs. Even if a school with rolling admissions doesn’t have a strict deadline for students applying for financial aid, institutions often have a limited pool of funding to allocate to students and can even run out. Consequently, applying early can hep secure a better shot at receiving institutional funding. If you wait until spring to apply to a rolling admissions school, there may not be as much (or any) financial aid available as if you had applied in the fall or winter.

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10 Top Schools With Rolling Admissions

 

Students often make the mistake of assuming that the best schools don’t offer rolling admissions. While none of America’s eight Ivy League colleges currently offer rolling admissions, plenty of great schools provide this perk. Below are the top national schools offering rolling admissions at this time:

 

School Name Location U.S. News & World Report Ranking Acceptance Rate Priority Deadline
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 57 56% Nov. 30
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 57 59% N/A
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 57 58% Feb. 1
Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ 62 60% Dec. 1
University of Minnesota Twin Cities, MN 70 52% Nov. 1
Binghamton University—SUNY Binghamton, NY 79 40% Jan. 15
Indiana University Bloomington, IN 79 77% Feb. 1
University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 79 56% Nov. 15
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 84 78% Nov. 1
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 104 66% Jan. 15

 

Whether or not your target colleges offer rolling admissions, it pays to know your odds of being accepted. At CollegeVine, we created our free chancing engine to provide that insight, using real data from thousands of students attending schools around the country. Our mission is to help you determine your chances of being accepted so you can set realistic goals and turn them into realities. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started finding your dream school.

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
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A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.