College Application Deadlines

Weighing the Pros and Cons

There are two big college application deadlines to remember – early decision and regular decision deadlines.

The most common question regarding early decision deadlines is whether or not it gives you an advantage over regular decision deadlines. Statistics show that there is an increased acceptance rate for applicants who applied during early decision and early action deadlines, compared to those who applied to those same schools during the regular decision deadline. Before you decide when to apply, you should consider all of the advantages and disadvantages to each application option.

Early Decision

November/December
 

Advantages:

  • Your application will be seen by admissions officers sooner 
  • You’re competing with fewer applicants 
  • You’ll know sooner if you got accepted

Disadvantages:

  • You can only apply to one early decision school 
  • If accepted, you must attend 
  • You cannot compare financial aid offers

Early Action

November/December
 

Advantages:

  • Your application will be seen by admissions officers sooner 
  • You’re competing with fewer applicants 
  • You’ll know sooner if you got accepted 
  • You can apply to other schools simultaneously 
  • You don’t have to accept until later 
  • You can compare other financial aid offers

Disadvantages:

  • If you’re not accepted, there’s little time to submit to regular application deadlines at other schools
 

Regular Decision

January/February
 

Advantages:

  • More time to submit applications and achieve higher ACT scores for additional scholarships 
  • If you’re undecided about where to go, this will give you more time to think it over 
  • No pressure to commit early, if accepted 
  • You can compare your financial aid offers from other colleges

Disadvantages:

  • You will not hear back from colleges until later in the spring 
  • This is a busy time of year for you with graduation plans, exams, and other commitments on top of applications 
  • Everyone else is submitting their application at this time, so it might be harder to stand out

Rolling Admissions

6-Month Window
 

Advantages:

  • The earlier you submit, the earlier you’ll hear back
  • If you’re accepted, you’re not obligated to attend the college or university
  • If you’re not accepted at early or regular decision colleges, then there’s a possibility a rolling admissions college is still accepting applicants

Disadvantages:

  • The longer you wait to apply, the harder it is to get accepted