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College Acceptance Types

Girl thinking about College Selection Planning


As if the process isn't already confusing enough, there are several types of admission you need to be familiar with as well.
First off: Not all colleges offer all types. But it is still important to understand them, then to research what your prospective colleges offer.


Early Decision

Under Early Decision, students are permitted to apply early only to one college or university. If they are accepted, students are legally bound to attend that school (and are forbidden to apply to all other schools). Typically, Early Decision applications are due November 1.

ADVANTAGE:
  • Students are more likely to be accepted because colleges have higher admission rates for Early Decision applicants. An additional advantage is students find out early if they’re accepted, usually between December 1 and 15.

  • DISADVANTAGE:
  • Students are under contract to attend the college that accepts them even if they receive no financial aid. Another disadvantage is students who submit an Early Decision application are forbidden to apply to all other schools using any type of Early Application or early notification process. If a student is rejected by the school they applied to under Early Decision, they must then apply to other schools using the Regular Admission process.
  • IMPORTANT: Early Decision should only be used by highly qualified students (students with very high grades, SAT®/ACT® scores, and extracurricular activities) who are committed to attending their first choice college or university, regardless of financial aid considerations.


  • Early Application (Early Action)

    Under Early Application or Early Action (also called multiple-choice early action), applications typically are due November 1-15, but students are not required to commit to attending a particular college until May 1.

    ADVANTAGE:
    This process has MANY ADVANTAGES:
  • Students receive decisions from these colleges about their admission status early (before the December holidays), but do not have to commit to attend college before May 1. This gives students plenty of time to compare college characteristics and financial aid offers before committing to attend a particular college.
  • Another advantage is students are more likely to be accepted because colleges have higher admission rates for Early Application applicants. If students are not accepted to the colleges they applied to under the Early Application process, they still have plenty of time to apply to other colleges and universities under other application processes.
  • IMPORTANT: Even when students apply to or are accepted by a school under Early Application, they remain free to apply to any other college and university using the Early, Regular, Rolling, or Late admission process.

  • DISADVANTAGE:
  • The only disadvantage of using the Early Application process is students will have a busy fall semester because all application documents normally are due in early to mid-November. This should represent only a minor disadvantage.


  • Single-Choice Early Action

    With Single-Choice Early Action, students are allowed to apply early to one college or university only (in other words, students are forbidden to apply to any other school using Early Applications or Early Decision applications). Typically, Single-Choice Early Action applications have due dates of between November 1 and 15.

    ADVANTAGE:
  • Similar to the Early Application process, student are more likely to be accepted because colleges have higher admission rates for Single-Choice Early Action applicants and students are not required to commit to attending a particular college until May 1. If rejected under the Single-Choice Early Action process, students will have time to apply to other colleges and universities using other admission processes.

  • DISADVANTAGE:
  • Students are forbidden to submit Early Applications to more than one school, thereby reducing their chances for acceptance to other schools.


  • Regular Admission (also called Regular Application or Regular Decision)

    Regular Admission applications are due to most colleges and universities between January 15 and February 1 (the University of California schools have a regular application deadlines of November 30). Each school’s Regular Application deadline should be noted and adhered to by student applicants.

    ADVANTAGE:
  • Students have additional months of time to complete and submit their applications (as compared to Early Decision and Early Application deadlines) and they have no restrictions on the number schools which they can apply.

  • DISADVANTAGE:
  • Students are less likely to be accepted because colleges have lower admission rates for Regular Admission applicants than for Early Decision and Early Application applicants. In addition, students will not find out if they have been accepted to their colleges until April under the Regular Admission process. That is somewhat late.


  • Rolling Admission (Rolling Decision)

    Under Rolling Admission, there are no application deadlines; colleges accept applications and applicants throughout the year. Decisions to admit students are made on a case-by-case basis and students usually receive decision letters within 4 to 8 weeks.

    ADVANTAGE:
  • The main advantage of Rolling Admission is students can apply anytime.

  • DISADVANTAGE:
  • Unfortunately, once colleges accept enough students, additional applications from Rolling Admission applicants won't be considered. Students should remember the later they apply, the less likely they will be accepted and the less likely they will qualify for positive financial aid packages.
  • When using this admission process, it is strongly recommended that students apply as early as possible to schools with Rolling Admission. If students apply in late spring or summer, they should first contact the college’s admissions office to make sure they are still accepting applications before completing and submitting forms and documents.


  • Late Admission

    Hundreds of colleges and universities offer Late Admission. Deadlines for submitting applications vary from June through August; students must verify Late Admission deadlines at each school of interest.

    ADVANTAGE:
  • Students can apply anytime, even in summer months after high school graduation.

  • DISADVANTAGE:
  • As with Rolling Admissions, once colleges accept enough students, additional applications from Late Admission applicants won't be considered. Students should remember the later they apply, the less likely they will be accepted and the less likely they will qualify for financial aid.
  • When using this admission process, it is strongly recommended that students apply as early as possible to schools with Late Admission. If students apply in the summer, they should first contact the college’s admissions office to make sure they are still accepting applications before completing and submitting forms and documents.


  • Other admission terms exist, but are not typically part of the initial application process. These include:

  • Early admission – Students of superior ability are admitted to college before graduating from high school.
  • Open admission – Virtually all high school graduates are accepted for admission regardless of academic qualifications.
  • Deferred admission – Two definitions exist: (1) Students applying under the early application process are “deferred” from being an early applicant and are “pushed” back to be part of the regular admission pool of applicants or (2), accepted students are permitted to postpone enrollment for one year.
  • Early evaluation – Students applying under the regular application process can request early evaluation to find out early if their chance for admission is good, fair, or poor. This is not possible at all colleges. Applications are submitted before the regular admission deadline and college admissions offices gives their opinion prior to March.


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