College Admissions and Application Options

By Anathea Simpkins

Age Groups

What are your college admissions and application options?

Regular admission, rolling admission, early admission, late admission, deferred admission—what do these terms mean? As you begin to form your college application list, your schools’ admissions policies will help you narrow the list and determine your approach for submitting your applications.


Customary College Admission Options

Regular Admission

The majority of colleges have a regular admissions policy. This means that the college has one fixed due date for all applications. Due dates are typically between November and February and, in turn, all acceptance or rejection letters will be sent by a set date.

Rolling Admission

Schools that have a rolling admissions policy allow students to submit their applications at any time during a specified admission period. This type of policy is common at large state colleges and universities. This time period for application acceptance is usually September through July. Schools will then review applications as they are received and send out acceptance or rejection letters on an ongoing basis. Because these schools accept students as applications are submitted, this means that admissions are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you are truly interested in one of these schools, keep this under consideration.

Open Admission

Open admission means that all students who have a high school diploma or General Education Development (G.E.D.) certificate are accepted. Community colleges, online schools, and distance learning programs typically fall into that category. If a student does not have a high enough GLA to be accepted at another college, enrolling in a school that falls into this category is a good way to complete basic college level courses or four-year graduation requirements with the goal of earning a GLA high enough to enroll in a four-year college.


Early Admission Options

This type of admissions option usually requires you to submit your application in October or November but ensures that you will receive an acceptance or rejection letter by December or January. There are three types of early admission processes. Though there are commonalities among the types, aspects of each individual college’s plan may differ, so be sure to understand the rules before submitting your application.

Early Decision Options

This option allows you to apply to only one early decision college. This may be the right option for you when you are applying to your dream college and you are confident that you meet all of the required criteria. If you are accepted to an early decision college of your choice and the college offers you enough financial aid, you must attend that college. In addition, if you apply to other colleges via the traditional admissions process, you must withdraw those applications if you are accepted to an early decision college.

Early Action

This plan is a bit more flexible than early decision. You can apply to more than one early action college, and you can decline the offer. In addition, if you’re accepted, you can say yes immediately or wait until spring to decide.

Single-Choice Early Action

In contrast to regular early action, you can apply to only one college that uses this type of admissions plan. However, you aren’t required to make your decision until early spring, and you are free to apply to other colleges through regular admissions.

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