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What is rolling admission?

Sep 18, 2020

It’s college application season already, and even if you don’t plan on submitting your applications until their due dates at 11:59 pm, you should start the writing process now! For certain schools, waiting until the very last minute, although not a very wise choice, doesn’t make a huge difference. Your application will be considered in the context of all of the other applications during that application round, whether they were submitted today, tomorrow, or January 1st. However, for schools with rolling admission, applying early on in the application period can give you a major boost. To learn why, keep reading!

What is rolling admission?

Rolling admission can look different at different colleges, but it is generally a way to apply to college at any time, without ever needing to worry about meeting a hard deadline. Of all the different application timelines, rolling admission is by far the most flexible. Some schools will have priority deadlines in the fall or winter, but you can technically apply to a school with rolling admission at any time. This allows students to perfect their application without the pressure of rushing to get it done by a particular day.

For transfer students, rolling admission can also be a great option. If your realization that you want to transfer colleges doesn’t coincide with the Fall or Spring deadlines that a particular college offers, you can look into colleges with rolling admissions options to transfer to instead.

How do I get the most out of rolling admission?

Whether you plan on applying to your dream school or your safety school rolling admission, you should do so as early as possible. With rolling admission, admissions officers don’t compare your application to every other student applying in order to admit only the absolute best students. Rather, they admit qualified students until all of the spots are filled. Essentially, rolling admission works on a “first come first serve” basis. That’s why the earlier you submit your rolling admissions application, the higher your chances are of getting accepted.

Just as you apply on a rolling basis, the school will notify you of their decision on a rolling basis, meaning that you can find out as soon as a few weeks after applying. If anything, applying early via rolling admission is a great way to secure some peace of mind while you work on your other applications!

How do I apply via rolling admission?

Applying early on in the process  — in September or October — means you will need to prepare all of your materials earlier than if you were only applying early action, early decision or regular decision. By the time you apply, you should already have test scores you are satisfied with and that will give you a fighting chance at that school (i.e. within or above their 50th percentile range). Additionally, you should communicate with your teachers and counselors about your application timeline and how early you plan to apply so that they can submit their letters of recommendation and school report in time for them to be considered with the rest of your application.

In addition to the logistical things you’ll need to take care of, there are also some mental steps you should take in order to successfully apply via rolling admission. Most importantly, you need to take your application seriously. Even though this application process is a lot more flexible than early decision, early action, or even regular decision, you should still put just as much effort into your application as you would for other schools. Take your time writing your essays and do your research to make sure this school is a good choice for you.

Once you decide where you want to apply, you should set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. Since there are no official deadlines for rolling admission applications, it can be easy to draw out the process for weeks and months, only delaying your application and reducing your chances of admission. Set an early deadline for yourself to apply—before your early or regular applications are due– so that you can get it out of the way and devote sufficient time and energy to your next set of schools.

What colleges offer rolling admission?

While highly selective colleges like Ivy Leagues and other top 20 schools don’t offer rolling admission, several colleges with great reputations and strong academics accept applications on  a rolling basis. At other colleges, you can take advantage of early decision programs to increase your likelihood of getting in and to get a decision earlier on in the process.

Here is a list of the top 10
U.S. universities that offer rolling admission:

Pennsylvania State University—University Park

University of Pittsburgh

Purdue University—West Lafayette 

Rutgers University—New Brunswick

University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Binghamton University—SUNY

Indiana University—Bloomington

University at Buffalo—SUNY

Michigan State University

Rochester Institute of Technology 

Loyola University Chicago