The Guide on the College Application Deadline You’ve Been Searching For

College Application Deadline A Guide You’ve Been Searching For

Entering college is a turning point in young people’s lives. They have to choose the right institution that will allow them to master their future profession and build a successful career. This is not an easy task, and there are many big and small obstacles on the way to solving it. So, when planning to apply to a school, a student needs to have a clear understanding of when to do it, how to do it right, and what options they have. A college application deadline is a rather complicated topic with many nuances. Today, we will try to explain everything about it in detail.

Further in the article:

Overview of College Application Deadlines

We know the college application timeline may seem overwhelming. That’s why we will tell you the most important things as simply as possible. So, to get into college, you need to send an application for admission. Most colleges and universities in the United States support four commonly accepted options for doing so:

  • Early decision deadlines
  • Early action deadlines
  • Regular decision deadlines
  • Rolling admission deadlines

Each of these options has its own peculiarities. We will analyze each of them.

college application deadline

Early Decision (ED) Deadline: Basics and Tips to Succeed

This option of applying for college admissions is extremely responsible. First and foremost, by submitting an application under this time slot, you commit to attending this school in case of a favorable admission decision. This means that even if you are accepted to any other college, you will have to refuse it and become a student of the college where you have submitted an early decision application.

In addition, this option does not allow you to find out about possible scholarships or other financial assistance from the university. This information will be disclosed upon enrollment.

This type of college application deadline is commonly divided into two sub-types: Early Decision I and Early Decision II. 

  • With Early Decision I, colleges finish accepting applications in early November. Expect a decision from the admissions office in mid-December.
  • In the case of Early Decision II, schools stop accepting applications from mid-November to February. The college will send you an admission decision in the next two months.

Pros and cons you should consider



  • Higher probability of being enrolled. Many colleges give preference to students who send an ED application. Some sources even claim that such applicants are up to 60% more likely to be admitted than applicants who apply through other options.
  • A good impression on the admission committee. This type of application is binding, so the admission committee can be sure that the student is really interested in studying at this school.
  • Early notification of admission. Since the ED applications are typically open from early August to early November, admission decisions come before winter exams. This is undoubtedly a big plus for reducing the graduation year stress.
  • Binding agreement. By deciding to apply for admission under the early decision deadlines, you cut off your path to other colleges. A binding agreement requires you to enroll if you receive a positive response from the school. 
  • Strict timeframes. When choosing the ED option, you must prepare the key components of your college application in advance. There will be no time to improve them during your senior year.
  • Financial uncertainty. By applying under the early decision college application timeline, you are accepting admission to a university without knowing your financial aid options.

Helpful tips on how to approach early decision deadlines

  • Choose your school carefully. After weighing the pros and cons, apply to a college you are 100% sure about. Look for information about it, visit its campus and website.
  • Plan for sufficient funding. Since you are accepting admission without knowing your financial aid options, you must be sure you can afford to pay for this college.
  • Prepare an impeccable application. Colleges may enroll more students under this application option, but this does not mean they accept everyone without exception. There is competition, and you must make a great impression on the admissions committee. Make a compelling application that emphasizes your strengths.

Early Action (EA) Deadline: Useful Details You Should Know

This type of application is similar to the previous option, but the admission decision is not binding. This college application deadline window provides two big advantages: you get an admission decision before most students, and you don’t have to commit to the school. These advantages translate into another one. Since you receive a decision early enough and you are not obliged to enter this school, you can apply to other colleges and compare your options for college admissions. Under the early action deadline option, you must inform the school of your final decision by May 1 of the following year.

Common deadlines for the EA option are:

  • The application process starts in early August and usually ends by mid-November.
  • You can expect an admission decision in December.

Pros and cons you must be aware of



  • Early notification. In most cases, you will receive your admission notification before Christmas. Considering how many things there are to worry about in your senior year, this is a tangible advantage.
  • No commitment to a college. You can apply to other colleges and have several solid options to choose from.
  • Sufficient time to respond. Since the college sends the decision on your admission in December and you can give your acceptance until May 1, you have more than enough time to weigh all the pros and cons of studying there.
  • Early deadline. To have time to prepare for the application process, you need to start working on all the necessary documents and essays in the middle of the 11th grade.
  • Selectivity. Not all schools offer EA deadlines. This significantly reduces the pool of possible options for admission.
  • Possible problems with essays and SAT/ACT. Since very little time is left to prepare such important parts of the application in the final year, this can affect their quality and reduce the chance of admission.

Tips on how to succeed with the Early Action deadlines application

  • Start your preparation early. Start working on your application well before the deadline. Be sure you have everything ready prior to the beginning of August. This will give you peace of mind and relief during the first months of your senior year.
  • Stay focused and organized. The EA college application deadline period starts early enough. To meet all the requirements and prepare a convincing essay, spend your time wisely and in a balanced way.
  • Ask for help. Do not think that the college application process is a one-person show. You may well ask for help and advice from your school counselor, teachers, and classmates.

college application deadlines

Regular Decision (RD) Deadline: Essential Information to Consider

If you are a fan of the principle that “slow and steady wins the race,” this is the option for you. It falls at the end of the academic year, so you will have enough time to prepare all the necessary materials in the best possible way: your transcripts, good SAT/ACT results, and a flawless essay. It is worth noting that the regular decision deadline slot is the most popular option among students. 

Typical regular decision deadlines are:

  • Your applications must reach the college from early January to mid-February.
  • You can expect your long-awaited college admissions decision in March or early April

Pros and cons you should keep in mind



  • Enough time to prepare. You’ll have almost the entire first half of your senior year before you apply for admission. Spend this time improving your academic profile and deeply researching colleges you are interested in.
  • No binding agreement. The RD deadline window does not oblige you to enter the college that approved your application.
  • An unlimited number of colleges. You have the right to apply to as many colleges as you want. There is no limit on their number.
  • The possibility of not being enrolled. This is the last standard deadline for submitting applications for admission. Hence, if you do not receive a favorable decision from the educational institutions during this period, you may have to wait until the following year to give it a second try.
  • The latest notification. Students who apply for admission under this deadline window receive notice at the end of the academic year.
  • Spending money on a large number of applications. Being the last standard deadline, the RD forces students to send applications to more colleges in the hope of being admitted.

Useful tips on how to approach the Regular Decision deadlines

  • A smart use of time. You will have enough time to prepare a convincing college application. Try to use this time wisely.
  • Think about your backup options. We know you dream of attending a particular college and can already imagine yourself there. However, life is full of surprises. Therefore, make sure you have several options to choose from if your target college rejects you.
  • Be sure to prepare a persuasive and engaging essay. This part of your application can present you to the admissions committee in a new light. Try to put all your skills and reflect your personality in it.

college admissions deadline

Rolling Admission (RA) Deadline: Basic Information You Must Learn

This is a special kind of application deadline window. If you want to use this option, research the rolling admission deadlines of the schools you are interested in. They can vary dramatically between colleges. Typically, you can opt for this application deadline if you have not been successful with all others. Universities often use this option after the standard due dates to apply. Furthermore, schools can extend the rolling admission deadline up to August until all classes are filled according to the prerequisites.

Important pros and cons you should bear in mind



  • A chance to go to college. Even if colleges have rejected you in all previous deadline windows, you can still try to apply on the rolling admissions deadline.
  • An extended period for accepting admission applications. Some universities continue to accept applications under a rolling admission deadline until August.
  • Unequal chances to get into college. Choosing this application slot may result in not being admitted to an educational institution.
  • Admission depends on the number of available seats in the class. Colleges allow you to apply on a rolling admission deadline basis if the class is not filled with the required number of students.

Rolling admission deadline tips for you

  • Trust verified sources. Before applying via the rolling admission deadline, check whether these educational institutions support it.
  • Take the matter seriously. Only some universities continue to enroll students until August. You shouldn’t get your hopes up that all universities adhere to this policy.
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Lauren Bradshaw
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Lauren started writing in 2003. Since then, she tried her hand in SEO and website copywriting, composing for blogs, and working as an academic writer. Her main interests lie in content marketing, developing communication skills, and blogging.