Deadlines for College Applications

When I was applying to various colleges a few years ago, I felt overwhelmed. Maybe not with just the thought of applying, but everything else associated with preparing for college in general.

Applying for college really isn’t that stressful, so long as students stay on top of everything they need to get done and the biggest step — applying!

Various colleges have their own application deadlines, so it’s important to stay on top of when they are, especially for the colleges you want to apply to. If students don’t want to apply during the regular college application deadline, they can also take advantage of the early application processes. The following are some of the various deadlines for college applications students should keep in mind.

  • Regular application deadline

Regular admission to colleges begins in the fall of a student’s senior year of high school.

In applying through the regular application process, students are given more time to do some research on colleges and really make sure they’re applying to the college(s) they can see themselves attending. If a student is unsure of where to attend, applying through the regular admission deadline is a good idea.

If the monetary aspect of college is a big factor, applying through the regular application process is also a good idea because it will give students the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from the various colleges they applied to.

I ultimately chose to apply through regular admission when I was in high school. I had a dream school that I wanted to attend, but I had never visited it and I wanted to keep my options open just in case. I also wanted to do some more research on colleges, so the regular application deadline fit best for me. Every student is different, so I recommend doing your research and make sure you are aware of the deadlines for college applications you want to complete.

  • Early admission

Applying to college early is a good idea for students who have a set idea of where they want to attend. The downside to applying early is risking not knowing financial aid offers from other colleges you’ve applied to for comparison. The plus side of applying through the early admission processes is hearing back from colleges sooner. The following are three types of early admission deadlines for college applications.

  • Early decision

If students decide to apply through early decision, they can only choose one college to apply to. If students are accepted into the college the applied to through early decision and receive an adequate amount of financial aid, they must attend that college.

Applying through early decision is a good idea for students who have a dream school they want to attend and have done enough research.

  • Early action

Through the early action process, students can apply to more than one college. Students aren’t required to accept admission right way (or at all), making it different than the early decision process.

  • Single-choice early action

Single-choice early action works the same as the early action process, though students apply early to only one college.

Other things to keep in mind when considering deadlines for college applications:

  • Number of applicants given the application deadline

When contemplating an early application process versus a regular application process, take into account your chances of getting in to a certain college based on the number of applicants during each of these time periods (regular admission or early admission).

  • The Common Application

The Common Application (Common App) is something students should learn about when applying to various colleges. The Common App is a not-for-profit organization that gives students the opportunity to apply to various member colleges through one application. The Common App can be beneficial for students because it’s only one application they fill out to the member colleges rather than a separate application for each individual college.

  • Application requirements

Students should also be aware of application requirements well before application deadlines. Various colleges require certain things from students whether it be essays, standardized tests or letters of recommendation.

Students should be sure they have done their research well before their deadlines for college applications to avoid finding out they had to write an essay for the application the night before the deadline. Yikes. Students should also be considerate and ask for letters of recommendation (if they need them) from their teachers or counselors with advanced notice.

In a 2012 publication by Jon Fortenbury in USA Today College, application advice was given from various sources. Kate Lazo, assistant director of admission at Stanford University, gave the following advice that was published in the article:

“Most colleges close for the winter holidays and don’t re-open until after the application deadline. If you wait until the last minute to seek information, you might be out of luck.” — Kate Lazo, assistant director of admission at Stanford University

Don’t chance anything. Be aware of looming deadlines for college applications and stay on top of the requirements for each college you plan on applying to. Good luck!

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Kassi Luja

Kassi Luja

Kassi Luja is a junior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo pursuing a degree in journalism with a concentration in news-editorial. At school, she can often be found in the Mustang Daily newsroom where she works as a copy editor. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.
Kassi Luja

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