Getting into your dream school means successfully completing the college admissions process – but that’s easier said than done! Indeed, the college application struggle is real, with statistics showing that 76% of students, who lead busy lives themselves, report high-stress levels during the process. Fortunately, there are colleges with rolling admissions that enable high school students and adult learners to stop worrying about missing admissions deadlines!
But like all things about the college application process, there are caveats about rolling admission policies among colleges and universities. Here are a few things that you must know about rolling admissions – what it is and what it is not – that will contribute to your informed decisions.
Rolling Admission: Definition and Differences with Other Types of Admission
Rolling admissions means that the colleges and universities that adopt it accept applications the whole year round and then perform evaluations and make admission decisions on a continuous basis. Colleges with rolling admissions don’t wait for all applications to be in by a specific deadline. Instead, their respective admissions committee reviews applications as they come in.
Schools with rolling admissions usually have a wide window of time for applications, with the submission period starting in the fall term, oftentimes on September 1 every year. These colleges continue to receive college applications until the spring or until there are available spots, and offers are made until all spots have been filled. This means high school students can apply in the spring of their senior year to colleges with rolling admissions in case they miss the application deadlines or don’t get accepted to their dream schools.
Prospective students who passed their college applications to rolling admissions colleges typically hear about the admission decisions in 4-8 weeks. Both offers and rejections are sent to applicants within a faster timeframe than with regular admissions.
Rolling Admission vs. Regular Admission
While rolling admission means there are no hard application deadlines, regular admissions mean college applications must be sent in by a specific deadline. This can be between late December and early January, but every school with a regular admission policy has its own college application deadline.
The admissions committee will neither accept nor review college applications sent after the deadline has passed – and most colleges and universities don’t make accommodations since the application deadlines are set months in advance.
The admissions committee will only review college applications after the deadline has passed, and these applications are reviewed within a specific period. Prospective students must then wait a while for admission decisions – offer or rejection – to be sent out, usually in the spring.
Rolling Admission vs. Early Action
Many of the best national universities offer early action and early decision options that allow prospective students to submit their college applications and receive an admission decision sooner than with regular admission. This early decision and early action plans usually have an earlier application deadline, usually in November, and admission decisions are issued in the winter. This is similar to rolling admission in the sense that applicants can get an admission decision at an earlier time.
While early action plans are non-binding, meaning students can choose to reject the offer, early decision plans have a binding nature – accepted students forfeit the right to apply to other schools. Rolling admission decisions are non-binding, too.
Rolling Admission and Selectivity in Acceptance of Students into Schools
Colleges and universities with rolling admission policies are often seen as less selective or competitive in their admissions process – and that’s far from the truth! For one thing, applying to colleges with rolling admissions doesn’t guarantee admission since the admissions process and criteria apply to all applicants. In fact, many of the colleges with rolling admission policies are selective national universities like Penn State University.
For another thing, the admissions committees of rolling admissions colleges are likely to have more time and energy for the review of college applications. With college applications coming in year-round, there’s less likelihood of a deluge before the application deadline ends.
Your college application may then be subjected to more scrutiny, and thus, you can’t afford to submit sloppy letters of recommendation and a personal statement or present low grades. You may be able to apply early, but that doesn’t mean you can be complacent!
Since admissions decisions in rolling admission colleges are non-binding, you don’t have to make a decision until May 1, also known as National College Decision Day. Check whether the schools with rolling admissions you’ve been accepted to have deposit deadlines since non-compliance will affect your formal admission.
Things to Know About Rolling Admissions
Every school has its specific rolling admissions policies, so be sure to read them thoroughly. The following discussions are of a general nature.
Reasons Schools Offer Rolling Admission
Colleges and universities with rolling admission policies have good reasons for allowing students to submit college applications without worrying about set deadlines. The rolling admission process eases the burden of reviewing and making admission decisions for thousands of applications within a short timeframe, as mentioned above. There’s the opportunity to space out the admission process.
The admissions committee can use a more holistic process when evaluating prospective students. Objective criteria like GPA and standardized test scores are de rigueur, of course, but other subjective criteria are also considered.
Advantages of Rolling Admission for Students
If you’re an incoming freshman and transfer student or an adult learner, you may want to prioritize the submission of applications to schools with rolling admissions.
More Effective Time Management
You can stagger your applications and, thus, avoid being overwhelmed by the complicated college application process, particularly if you’re applying to many colleges with rolling and regular admissions. Your senior year will likely be less stressful for it, partly because your admissions decision will come in the mail sooner.
Better admission Chances
Of course, you must still submit a robust college application that meets your dream school’s criteria for admission. But applying early can increase your chances of admission for as long as slots are still available.
Best Financial Aid Package Possible
With an earlier admission decision, you can also apply for financial aid early. And since financial aid, particularly scholarships, are competitive, the earlier you can apply, the better your chances.
For example, rolling admissions colleges may grant financial aid to students who have been accepted earlier in the academic year, even if these students don’t meet some of the criteria. The reason: The college may not know at the time if the available slots for financial aid will be filled by eligible students by the time the admissions deadlines have passed.
Note, however, that scholarship and rolling admissions policies may be different. Some scholarship programs may have non-rolling dates or specific deadlines.
Drawbacks of Rolling Admission for Students
While rolling admission has several advantages for college students, it has its drawbacks, too.
More Competitive Admission
The competition for the remaining open slots can be more competitive with applicants who waited until the last minute, not getting in. Applying as early as possible is then strongly recommended when you’re planning on getting accepted into one of the best schools with rolling admissions.
Priority Deadlines Still Present
Second, a rolling admission doesn’t mean there’s no final deadline. Many colleges with rolling admissions policies still have priority deadlines alongside rolling admissions deadlines. The priority deadlines are intended to provide students who have submitted their applications before said dates greater consideration. Note, too, that priority deadlines and regular college application deadlines are often close in intervals and thus, prospective students don’t necessarily get extra time for their applications.
Tips for Applying to a College with Rolling Admissions
The bottom line: You have to put in as much time, energy, and work on your college applications for schools with rolling admissions and colleges with regular admissions! Here are practical tips that will increase your chances of admission and possibly decrease your stress.
- Applying early is critical to your success in any rolling admissions process!
- Consider your GPA and how you can boost it since grades are an essential consideration in admissions decisions.
- Boost your resume with extracurricular activities, such as afterschool programs, community volunteer work, and team sports, since admissions committees also look into them.
- With a rolling admissions process in place, it’s easier to plan the best time to take the SAT or ACT. perhaps even retake it in case your scores are low the first time.
- Gather your letters of recommendation as early as possible. You can ask your teachers, guidance counselor, and/or principal for these letters.
- Start working on your resume and personal statement, too, and rewrite them as many times as possible until you hit it just right. If your GPA and test scores aren’t the best, your personal statement, letter of admission, and resume may well tip the balance in your favor.
Be sure to talk to a representative about the college admissions process, too, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can’t second-guess yourself in matters related to the admissions process, including financial aid applications! Check out the FAQs section, too.
Lastly, read and understand the college admissions process and requirements, and check and recheck your application and its supporting documents before submission. Even a simple typo error can cost you!
10 Colleges with Rolling Admissions Policy
Pennsylvania State University
While Penn State University doesn’t have an application deadline, thanks to its rolling admission policy, first-year applicants are well-advised to submit their applications by November 30.
While Penn State University will still accept applications after November 30, applicants may find it more challenging to get accepted into their first choice among the branch campuses or undergraduate programs. University Park, however, doesn’t adopt the rolling admissions applications policy.
Note: The early action deadline is November 1. The anticipated notification date – or admission decision – varies depending on the date on which a completed application was submitted under the rolling admission policy.
Penn State University is among the more selective public universities, with a 56% acceptance rate on average. Half of the admitted students have an SAT range between 1200 and 1400. Among its more selective academic programs are computer science, electrical engineering, and computer engineering.
University of Pittsburgh
Prospective freshman students applying for admission into the undergraduate programs at the University of Pittsburgh benefit from its rolling admission policy. The university reviews and makes admissions decisions the whole year-round, but prospective students should ideally apply early to comply with application deadlines, including for financial aid.
Freshmen students whose required documents are submitted by December 1 are automatically considered for academic scholarships.
The admissions process has a holistic approach that emphasizes solid academic performance in the senior year, among other measures of academic performance and potential. The admissions decision also takes into account the uniqueness of every prospective student and their suitability for studies at Pitt.
Pitt has several branch campuses for students to choose from, and its most selective programs are in civil engineering, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering.
Loyola University Chicago
Considered among the top universities in Chicago and Illinois, Loyola University Chicago accepts applications on a rolling basis. Aside from being a test-optional school, test scores may still be submitted, and these will be considered in the admissions decision. Prospective freshman students must take note of the December 1 priority deadline, meaning applications submitted on or before this date will be prioritized for admission and merit-based scholarships.
There are no separate applications for admission and scholarship – these are contained in the application for admission form itself, thus, streamlining the admission process.
Applicants can choose between three application forms – the free Loyola-specific online application for students who aren’t applying to other schools or who have no access to the other two formats, the Common App for students applying to the Common App schools, and the Coalition for College Success Application application.
A constituent and accredited college of the City University of New York (CUNY) System, Baruch College is known for being among the top public colleges in the Big Apple and beyond. The college adopts a rolling admission policy except in the Macaulay Honors College.
Applicants can use the CUNY Application to file their college applications to several CUNY colleges, thus, making the admission process less overwhelming. Freshman students can apply to as many as six colleges in the CUNY System with one application fee, while transfer students are limited to four colleges.
Incomplete college applications will not be reviewed. Baruch College can take 4-6 weeks to process submitted documents, and admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applicants, however, are advised to complete their application on or before the priority deadline. Applicants are considered based on their academic performance, intellectual curiosity, and demonstrated leadership.
Iowa State University
Applications are reviewed when received in accordance with Iowa State University’s rolling admissions policy. Admission of incoming students for the fall semester starts on July 1 of the previous year. But the admission for the spring and summer terms starts about 12 months before the beginning of said term.
First-year applicants may or may not submit their SAT/ACT scores. IAState uses the Regent Admission Index for applicants who submit their test scores and the Alternative Admission Index for those who don’t. The Alternative Admission Index considers the high school GPA and core course requirements; applicants with at least a 176 score will be automatically offered admission.
An international student must also satisfy IAState’s English proficiency requirement.
Southern New Hampshire University
Admission decisions at SNHU are made on a rolling basis for its six undergraduate terms. Applicants must work with their admission counselor throughout the application process. SNHU accepts up to 45 transfer credits for an associate degree and 90 transfer credits for a bachelor’s degree, as well as accepts transfer students from community colleges.
Applicants must use the Common App in completing and submitting their college applications. Additional documents, such as an official high school transcript or its GED equivalent and a letter of recommendation, are also required for submission; SNHU is a test-optional school. SNHU has application deadlines, nonetheless, including a priority deadline and an early action deadline.
SNHU considers a well-rounded education as an investment and, thus, looks for first-year students with a good academic background, extracurricular activities, and leadership potential. Applicants who have completed 16 college-preparatory courses in English, math, science, and social science have a competitive edge.
University of New Haven
The admissions committee at the University of New Haven starts their application review on September 1 for all applicants, including those in the early decision or early action plans. Applicants will receive their admission decision, either an offer or a rejection, no later than 4-6 weeks after their applications have been completed.
All first-year candidates applying for undergraduate academic programs must submit a completed application via Common App and pay the $50 application fee. Official transcripts are required, too, as is a letter of recommendation from academic sources. Most undergraduate programs don’t require standardized test scores and a personal statement.
University of Southern Maine
Like the other colleges featured here with a rolling admissions policy, the University of Southern Maine also recommends applying based on priority deadlines and other specific dates. The reason: Applying early allows prospective students to take advantage of scholarships and other benefits. For example, completing your application and submitting your FAFSA on or before January 15 can mean getting the best financial aid package.
Aside from the completed application form, applicants must also submit their official transcripts and personal statement. The admission process at USM emphasizes the holistic approach, with applicants selected based on their academic performance and potential, leadership capabilities, and overall fit with their chosen academic programs and the university.
University of Alabama
While the University of Alabama has a rolling admissions policy, it has specific priority deadlines in certain parts of the college application process. Test scores are optional until the Fall 2024 Semester but may be submitted for consideration, especially in its selective programs. Qualifying test scores are also required for automatic merit scholarships.
Applicants will find the application process easier, too, partly because the application for admission and the scholarship application are incorporated into a single form. Accepted students who complete their application, including the supporting documentation, by January 15 are considered for scholarships.
Note, too, that admitted students may also file the Freshman Supplemental Scholarship Application for added financial aid while the deadline for FAFSA application is December 1. Students in an incoming class can also pay the Freshman Enrollment Deposit ($200, non-refundable) to save their spot.
University of Mississippi
Be sure to apply early to the University of Mississippi even if its admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. This is because the rolling admissions policy means a first-come, first-served practice until Ole Miss reaches its total capacity for its undergraduate programs. For best consideration, apply no later than April 1 during your senior year.
Applicants can choose between the university-specific application or the Common Application; Ole Miss doesn’t give a preference either way. Admission decisions are based on the completion of the Mississippi College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC), the high school GPA, and standardized test scores (i.e., either the ACT or SAT).
In conclusion, colleges with rolling admissions policies offer incoming freshman students the opportunity to submit their college applications without the stress of missing deadlines. But these colleges also have selective admissions processes and requirements as well as priority deadlines that preclude sloppy work and procrastination!
Applying early, double-checking your application and supporting documents, and putting your best foot forward is still a must for success. Keep in mind, too, that applying to several colleges, whether these have a regular admission or a rolling admission policy, isn’t recommended. You want to keep the stress of juggling multiple college applications as low as possible, but you will want to keep your costs down, too – the application fees will add up!