One of the most daunting elements of being a senior is not knowing how to apply for college. There is an entire time of planning when to apply for college that must be considered. While the window usually starts in August for a Fall 2022 admission, there are specific application deadlines for college set by each college or university. Students can get ahead of the race by submitting the Common Application, the Black Common Application, or the Coalition for College, where their application can go to multiple colleges at once.
There are certain deadlines for college application procedures to be aware of:
- Early Action
An early action deadline usually opens in November and ends in December. This type of deadline gives students an opportunity to submit their application early and get a decision before the college admits regular admission students. Students who choose early action are usually notified before the new year.
Students often choose this 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 application may be pushed into deferment but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The college is not saying no, they just want more information before making a final decision.
- Early Decision
Many students get early action and early decision confused. Students who get an early decision are bound to attend the institution. This may not work for those students who want to keep their options open.
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, and 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 package will look like, and could possibly 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
Regular decision is the choice most students make. The window for application is the largest, and students have until 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 and are required to let the institution know by May 1 whether they will be attending.
Students who need extra time to write their essays or gather additional information use these options because 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 Admission
There are many colleges and universities who offer rolling admissions. This 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 can apply. They then review these applications all throughout the window until they have filled all spots.
Each school has their own process and policies to follow, so interested students should not wait until the last minute to start.
- Transfer Admission
There are times when students are not comfortable with their original choice, or have chosen to attend a community college before going to a larger institution. In these cases, they apply to transfer to these college and universities. While 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 but 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 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 in the fall.
Typical College Application Deadlines for Fall 2022
The following table summarizes the most common college application deadlines for various application options, such as early action and regular decision.
|APPLICATION DEADLINE||ADMISSION DECISION|
|Early Action||November 2021||December 2021|
|Early Decision||November 2021||December 2021|
|Regular Decision||January/February 2022||March/April 2022|
|Rolling Admission||Varies||Usually 4-6 weeks|
Creating a plan that works
Planning the 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.
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 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. There may be other factors in play, such as having to retake an exam, or they don’t have all their recommendations or essays in place. Teachers and other people tapped to write recommendation letters 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 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 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 applications done usually do better in getting things done.
College Application Deadlines for 50 Popular Colleges
The table below presents the 2021-22 application deadlines for 50 of the most popular colleges and universities.
|SCHOOL||EARLY ACTION||EARLY DECISION||REGULAR DECISION|
|Boston College||—||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Boston University||—||November 1 / January 4||January 4|
|Brandeis University||—||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Brown University||—||November 1||January 5|
|California Institute of Technology||November 1||—||January 3|
|Carnegie Mellon University||—||November 1 / January 3||January 3|
|Case Western Reserve University||November 1||November 1 / January 15||January 15|
|Columbia University||—||November 1||January 1|
|Cornell University||—||November 1||January 2|
|Dartmouth College||—||November 1||January 3|
|Duke University||—||November 1||January 4|
|Emory University||—||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Georgetown University||November 1||—||January 10|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||October 18 / November 1||—||January 5|
|Harvard University||November 1||—||January 1|
|Johns Hopkins University||—||November 1 / January 3||January 3|
|Lehigh University||—||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||November 1||—||January 5|
|New York University||—||November 1 / January 1||January 5|
|Northeastern University||November 1||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Northwestern University||—||November 1||January 3|
|Princeton University||November 1||—||January 1|
|Rice University||—||November 1||January 4|
|Stanford University||November 1||—||January 5|
|Tufts University||—||November 1 / January 4||January 4|
|Tulane University||November 15||November 1||January 15|
|University of California, Berkeley||—||—||November 30|
|University of California, Davis||—||—||November 30|
|University of California, Irvine||—||—||November 30|
|University of California, Los Angeles||—||—||November 30|
|University of California, San Diego||—||—||November 30|
|University of California, Santa Barbara||—||—||November 30|
|University of Chicago||November 1||November 1 / January 4||January 4|
|University of Florida||—||—||November 1 / rolling|
|University of Georgia||October 15||—||January 1|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||—||—||November 1 / January 5|
|University of Michigan||November 1||—||February 1|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||October 15||—||January 15|
|University of Notre Dame||November 1||—||January 1|
|University of Pennsylvania||—||November 1||January 5|
|University of Rochester||—||November 1 / January 5||January 5|
|University of Southern California||—||—||December 1 / January 15|
|University of Texas at Austin||—||—||November 1 / December 1|
|University of Virginia||November 1||November 1||January 3|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||November 1||—||February 1|
|Vanderbilt University||—||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Wake Forest University||—||November 15 / January 1||November 15 / January 1|
|Washington University in St. Louis||—||November 1 / January 4||January 4|
|William & Mary||—||November 1 / January 1||January 1|
|Yale University||November 1||—||January 2|
What does a college application notebook look like?
Most students have a notebook that has:
- Clear pocket protectors
- 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.
In the pocket protectors, copies of these letters, college transcripts, resumes, and other information should be easily accessible. All financial information that may be needed to fill out forms should also be listed in the notebook to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. This 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 information needed for scholarship applications and tracking them 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 college application deadlines 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 specific deadlines based on 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.