pexels cottonbro 4778611

When are College Ap­pli­ca­tion Deadlines?

Find Your Degree

One of the most daunting elements of senior year is not knowing how to apply for college. There is an entire time of planning when to apply for college that must be considered. But, when are application deadlines for colleges? The window usually starts in August for a Fall admission. There are specific application deadlines for college set by each college or university.

Students can get ahead of the race by submitting through college application services. These include the Common Application, the Black Common Application, and the Coalition for College. Their application can go to many colleges at once.

Depositphotos 36651683 L

There are certain deadlines for college application procedures to be aware of:

Early Action Deadline

An early action application deadline usually opens in November and ends in December. This type of deadline gives students an opportunity to submit their college application early. They can get a decision before the college admits regular admission students. Students who choose to apply early action are usually notified before the new year.

Students often choose this college application deadline option because although they are being notified early that they have been admitted. They do not have to commit to attending that institution. They also do not have to respond until the general May 1 deadline.

For students who are looking for the best option for them, this is a great start. Students who do not have a strong college application may be pushed into deferment but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Most schools are not saying no, they just want more information before making a final decision.

Early Decision Deadline

Many students get early action and early decision confused. Students who get an early decision are bound to attend the institution. It is a binding commitment. This may not work for those students who want to keep their options open.

exam computer work

The process for early decision is similar to early action and students receive a decision before the new year. Students accepted during this period must withdraw any outstanding applications from other universities. They pay their nonrefundable deposit for room and board.

One of the downsides to this process is that students who agree to early decision do not know what their financial aid offers will look like. They could run into a situation where they do not receive enough funds to cover what they may actually need to attend the institution. This could be problematic.

Unless the student knows they have an extra money available to cover those costs, this may not be the wisest option to consider.

Regular Decision Deadline

Unlike early decision, regular decision is the choice most students make. This window for college applications is the largest. Students have college application deadlines of January or February to apply. This gives them time before the new year to make their final decisions on the institutions they are considering. With regular decision, students are often notified in March or April. They are required to let the institution know by May 1 whether they will be attending.

Students who need extra time to write their college essays or gather additional information use these options. It also gives them time to figure out financial considerations as well. While this is the most convenient, there are also issues that may occur. Students who are deferred or not accepted may have to put their dreams on hold if there are no other options available.

Rolling College Admissions

There are many colleges and universities who offer rolling admissions. Rolling admissions is convenient for students who have not decided in a reasonable time which institution they want to attend. These institutions have a few windows where students apply instead of hard college application deadlines. They review these applications throughout the window until they have filled all spots.

Each particular school has their own college admissions process and policies to follow, so interested students should not wait until the last minute to start.

Transfer Admission

online student working home e1551455626643

There are times when students are not comfortable with their original choice. They may have chosen to attend a community college before going to a larger institution. In these cases, students apply to transfer to these college and universities.

The transfer process seems simple enough. Students are also evaluated as if they were standard students applying for admission. Their applications may be reviewed on a rolling admissions basis. The criteria is generally the same.

Students who want to transfer to another college or university should take into account the other students who are applying. This means they should apply early to avoid being put into the general pool of students so their application can be processed ahead of standard college deadlines. Transfer students may have special requirements, so reading and understanding what is required is key.

Depending on where the transfer student is in their educational journey, they may still be required to have a high school transcript submitted. Transfer students should still have recommendations, other transcripts and information ready to submit by March or April if they plan on attending the fall semester.

Typical Application Deadlines for Colleges – Fall

The following table summarizes the most common college application deadlines for various application options, such as early action and regular decision.

Early ActionNovemberDecember
Early DecisionNovemberDecember
Regular DecisionJanuary/FebruaryMarch/April
Rolling AdmissionVariesUsually 4-6 weeks

Creating a plan that works

Planning the college application process is key. Most students should start in their junior year as soon as they begin taking the SAT and ACT. This gives them a good timeline if they have to retake portions of the test or they are considering going the early admission route.

High school students who have a solid plan in place can gather their information and be ready to apply for early action or early decision when their senior year begins. These students take the time to get everything in order so they will not have to worry about waiting for a decision with the masses. This gives them time to focus on their studies so their final transcripts are good, and they can also start getting things in order for their matriculation into college.


Early action and early decision students have more options and usually have higher acceptance rates because they are not competing with students who chose to wait. Students who wish to apply early must start during the summer to make sure all their documents are in order. That means at the end of the junior year they must ask for recommendation letters to submit and have all their standardized test scores ready to go.

There is nothing wrong with students who have chosen to wait for regular decision. It is not unheard of for students to be a little confused or indecisive about what institution they want to attend, or they may be trying to figure out their finances and financial aid. There may be other factors in play, such as having to retake an exam, or they don’t have all their recommendations or college essays in place. Teachers and other people tapped to write letters of recommendation should be asked early, especially if they are popular.

Every student is different and should work at their own pace. The best thing is getting started in the junior year, narrowing down which prospective schools will fit their learning style and program of choice best. There is no right and wrong way to do things, and there is no cookie-cutter script on whether a particular school will be a good fit. This is one of the main reasons there is a transfer option.

Getting assistance when planning

Asking for assistance can be beneficial. There are counselors in place to help guide the college planning and application process to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Students who create notebooks and put themselves on a schedule to get their college applications done usually do better in getting things done.

College Application Deadlines for 50 Popular Colleges

If you are asking, when are application deadlines for colleges, we are here to help! The table below presents application deadlines for 50 of the most popular colleges and universities.

Boston CollegeNovember 1 / January 1January 1
Boston UniversityNovember 1 / January 4January 4
Brandeis UniversityNovember 1 / January 1January 1
Brown UniversityNovember 1January 5
California Institute of TechnologyNovember 1January 3
Carnegie Mellon UniversityNovember 1 / January 3January 3
Case Western Reserve UniversityNovember 1November 1 / January 15January 15
Columbia UniversityNovember 1January 1
Cornell UniversityNovember 1January 2
Dartmouth CollegeNovember 1January 3
Duke UniversityNovember 1January 4
Emory UniversityNovember 1 / January 1January 1
Georgetown UniversityNovember 1January 10
Georgia Institute of TechnologyOctober 18 / November 1January 5
Harvard UniversityNovember 1January 1
Johns Hopkins UniversityNovember 1 / January 3January 3
Lehigh UniversityNovember 1 / January 1January 1
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyNovember 1January 5
New York UniversityNovember 1 / January 1January 5
Northeastern UniversityNovember 1November 1 / January 1January 1
Northwestern UniversityNovember 1January 3
Princeton UniversityNovember 1January 1
Rice UniversityNovember 1January 4
Stanford UniversityNovember 1January 5
Tufts UniversityNovember 1 / January 4January 4
Tulane UniversityNovember 15November 1January 15
University of California, BerkeleyNovember 30
University of California, DavisNovember 30
University of California, IrvineNovember 30
University of California, Los AngelesNovember 30
University of California, San DiegoNovember 30
University of California, Santa BarbaraNovember 30
University of ChicagoNovember 1November 1 / January 4January 4
University of FloridaNovember 1 / rolling
University of GeorgiaOctober 15January 1
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignNovember 1 / January 5
University of MichiganNovember 1February 1
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillOctober 15January 15
University of Notre DameNovember 1January 1
University of PennsylvaniaNovember 1January 5
University of RochesterNovember 1 / January 5January 5
University of Southern CaliforniaDecember 1 / January 15
University of Texas at AustinNovember 1 / December 1
University of VirginiaNovember 1November 1January 3
University of Wisconsin-MadisonNovember 1February 1
Vanderbilt UniversityNovember 1 / January 1January 1
Wake Forest UniversityNovember 15 / January 1November 15 / January 1
Washington University in St. LouisNovember 1 / January 4January 4
William & MaryNovember 1 / January 1January 1
Yale UniversityNovember 1January 2

What does a college application notebook look like?

Most students have a notebook that has:

  • Clear pocket protectors
  • Dividers
  • Colored paper

The notebook has a list of schools the student is interested in. At the beginning of the notebook, these colleges have their application deadlines and other information. A schedule of when the student is going to ask or asked for their recommendation letters is there, as well as a schedule of exams.

notebook supplies

In the pocket protectors, copies of these letters, college transcripts, resumes, and other information should be easily accessible. All financial aid information that may be needed to fill out forms should also be listed in the notebook to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

This college admissions schedule should be able to keep students on track in evaluating what is due and when. Additionally, this is a good snapshot of when things were submitted, when colleges requested information, and when the acceptance or denial letters came in.

This is also a good place to store financial aid information needed for scholarship applications and compare financial aid offers. Students can track all the information to ensure when someone asks, everything is within reach.

Whether working toward early action, early decision, rolling admission, transfer, or regular decision, every student knows what is best for them. It is important to pay attention to application deadlines for colleges and be ready for additional correspondence, even when using the Common Application or Coalition for College.

Taking the time to understand the process and keeping up with set deadlines based on a particular school of choice can be hectic, but with the right tools and motivation in place, it can help the process go on without a hitch. The next stop – getting ready to notify colleges of your intentions.


Ultimate Guide to Transferring From Community College
Preparing for College as a 12th Grader

Find Your Degree

Find Your Degree