What is Rolling Admission?
When it comes to applying for college, the first thing you may think about is deadlines!
There are specific dates for almost everything:
- standardized tests
- financial aid applications
- scholarship deadlines
And, of course, the almighty application deadline. Timelines might seem to rule your senior year of high school, and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking so.
All these hard and fast deadlines are certainly stressful, but there’s good news. When applying to colleges and universities, you have probably seen this term: rolling admission.
What does rolling admission mean?
The rolling admission process offers a more flexible application period without set deadlines. Even better, hundreds of colleges and universities across the country offer rolling admissions for college applications.
If you are applying to colleges soon, make sure you understand rolling admissions. You might benefit from applying to the colleges that use this application process. Keep reading to see how it works.
What Is Rolling Admission?
All colleges have application timelines, but each college admissions process varies widely.
Many colleges have separate timelines for applications, such as:
- Early decision
- Early action
- Regular decision
In these models, each type of college application has a specific deadline. For example, early decision or early action applications are usually due sometime in November.
Regular decision applications are usually due in January. However, these dates vary from one college to another, so knowing the application deadlines for each school you apply to is important.
In the more traditional admissions process, colleges collect applications up until the application deadline. Applications received after the application deadline won’t be considered in the admissions process. After the deadline, admissions officers review all materials and offer acceptances to the most qualified candidates from the applicant pool.
However, rolling admission works differently.
In rolling admission, each college has an application window where applications are accepted and reviewed “as they roll in.” Just like in regular decision admissions, this window will vary from one rolling admission school to another. In general, rolling admissions colleges will accept applications from fall until late spring or until the class is filled.
When you submit a rolling admission application, it is reviewed when it is received (“as they roll in.”) You usually find out if you’ve been accepted soon after your application is reviewed. Rolling admissions are like a first-come, first-serve application process.
Like everything else in life, the rolling admission process has its benefits and drawbacks. We will take a look at both, and then you can decide if applying to rolling admission colleges is right for you.
What Are the Advantages of Rolling Admissions?
Rolling admissions programs offer some key benefits to college applicants.
Rolling admissions can be less stressful.
Deadlines can put additional pressure on you during an already stressful time. Rolling admissions help to relieve some of that pressure by allowing you to apply any time during the application window. You can apply before or after other deadlines for other schools.
In addition, you will have more time to work on various parts of your application:
- Improving your GPA
- Revising your personal statement
- Increasing your standardized test scores
Using this time to your advantage will ensure that your application is top-notch.
Rolling admissions allows you to make college decisions early.
Most regular decision applications due in January don’t return an admissions decision until mid-March. That time frame is approximately two months of waiting time.
With rolling admissions, you can find out if you have been accepted within 4-6 weeks of applying. Some colleges with rolling admission boast even a faster turnaround: 2-3 weeks!
This timeliness allows you to make a decision on college earlier than you otherwise would. You will also be able to apply for financial aid and scholarships early on, which lessens your stress load.
Some high school seniors can begin their senior year with a college acceptance letter!
Rolling admissions offer the chance for a second round of applications.
Another perk of the rolling admission process is a second chance. Let us explain.
If a student does not get accepted to any college under the regular decision process, they would still have time to apply to many schools through rolling admissions. For example, let’s say that you apply to several colleges that offer traditional admission deadlines, but you are not accepted. Colleges with rolling admission deadlines to the rescue.
Additionally, rolling admissions can be a great opportunity for:
- Students who don’t perform well under deadlines
- Students who want to hear back from colleges more quickly
- Students who need a backup plan after regular admissions
What Are the Disadvantages of Rolling Admissions?
While there are many upsides to rolling admissions, you should also know about some of the drawbacks.
Rolling admission classes or programs can fill up before the application window closes.
Sometimes, you need to apply for a specific program at a school. More popular programs fill up quickly.
You can never be certain when a school or program will reach capacity. No matter how qualified you are, if you wait until later in the application window, you risk all the seats being filled. This is a big drawback to rolling admissions: a perfectly qualified applicant may get denied admission if the program is already full.
The most selective, prestigious colleges don’t use rolling admission.
This means if you want to attend an Ivy League or similarly competitive college, rolling admissions are off the table.
You may wonder why this is.
Traditional admissions deadlines ensure admissions officers can review every application. This process of reviewing every application takes time. Then, the college or university accepts only the most highly qualified candidates.
In rolling admissions, admissions officers review applications and make admission decisions as they arrive. They seek only to admit candidates who are qualified to attend, but they cannot compare the entire applicant pool at once. If the class fills, they may need to reject some highly qualified applicants.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rolling Admission
What is Rolling Admission Vs. Regular Decision?
Rolling admission means that colleges will review applications as they are submitted. As a future college student, you can apply to a rolling admission school any time during the application window.
On the other hand, some schools use a regular decision policy. This means that you must submit your application by a specific deadline. Often, schools with regular decision admissions hold a December or January deadline for applications.
What is Rolling Admission Vs. Early Action?
Schools with an early action admissions policy allow you to apply earlier than a regular decision policy. For example, a regular decision application may be due in January, but with early action, you can apply in November. A perk of early action admissions is that you will get an acceptance decision earlier.
Colleges with rolling admission do not require a specific deadline, so you can submit your application whenever you want.
Do Schools with Rolling Admission Have an Application Deadline?
A common misconception about the rolling admission process is that there are no deadlines. This is not true. Schools with rolling admission have application windows, generally from September 1-until March 1 or until spots are filled.
While you can apply to a rolling admission college throughout the year, you need to know when the window opens and closes. You can find out this information by researching a college’s application webpage.
Who Should Consider Applying to Rolling Admission Schools?
Anyone can apply to rolling admission schools. However, if you think your application could benefit from extra time to improve on your grades, test scores, and personal essays, then rolling admission may benefit you.
Some applicants apply to one or two of their first choice schools and then use the rolling admission process at other schools as back up plans. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan while you’re waiting to hear from your top choice.
What Else Should You Know About Rolling Admissions?
You need to weigh one more factor when you’re considering rolling admissions: the priority deadline. Students who apply by the priority deadline will get a decision faster than those who don’t.
Priority deadlines are also sometimes used for students who want to apply for specific honors or accelerated programs, financial aid, or scholarships. As is always the case in college admissions, do your research for every school on your college list. You need to know when important dates are coming up.
Rolling Admission Schools You Should Consider
Although the most selective colleges in the country do not use a rolling admission process, plenty of other great schools do. Here are a few you should consider.
Pennsylvania State University is one of the most highly ranked schools that offers rolling admissions, but keep an eye on dates. The college recommends all applicants apply by Dec. 1, and some programs, like the accelerated premedical-medical program, have hard deadlines of Nov. 1.
Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
Acceptance rate: 56%
Application window: Aug. 1-Dec. 1
Priority deadline: Nov. 30
Cost: $18,898 for in-state students, $36,476 for out-of-state students
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is another strong contender that offers rolling admissions, though their website notes they typically receive applications from more candidates than they are able to accept. Getting your application in early is important if you want to boost your chances of getting in.
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Acceptance rate: 76%
Application window: Aug. 1 to until the class is filled
Priority deadline: Nov. 1
Cost: $14,460 for in-state students, $39,766 for out-of-state students
Indiana University offers a hybrid rolling admission policy. Early action applications are accepted before Nov. 1, regular decision applications are accepted until Feb. 1, and rolling admissions applications are accepted afterward until space is filled. Keep in mind the longer you wait, the more competitive the admissions process becomes.
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Acceptance rate: 80%
Application window: Aug. 1-Feb. 1 and as space allows afterward
Priority deadline: Nov. 1
Cost: $11,220 for in-state students, $37,600 for out-of-state students
University of Tulsa
At the University of Tulsa, admissions officers recommend that students submit an application by Feb. 1, though they will consider later applications on a space-available basis. All applications submitted by Feb. 1 will also be considered for scholarships.
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Acceptance rate: 69%
Application window: Nov. 1-Feb. 1 and later as space allows.
Cost: $58,332 for tuition, room, and board
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is another rolling admissions school, offering flexible admission to incoming freshmen, transfer students, and international students. Early action applications are accepted by September 1 and regular decision applications are accepted until March 1. Rolling admissions applications are accepted afterward until space is filled.
Location: Orlando, Florida
Acceptance rate: 45%
Application window: May 1-March 1 and as space allows afterward
Priority deadline: September 1
Cost: $19,077 for in-state students, $35,177 for out-of-state students
Start Your College Search on the Right Foot
This list of some of the top rolling admissions schools should get you off to a great start. If you want to find out if other schools on your college list practice rolling admissions, click through the application process for information about deadlines.
Finally, keep in mind that while the rolling admissions process offers a great opportunity for students who need to delay the application for one reason or another, it does limit your options. It’s important to know what rolling admission is, how it works, and the advantages and disadvantages ahead of time.
You’re better off starting your college search on the early side and compiling a strong college list. For help, check out College Rank, where a team of professional researchers uses data and science to rank colleges across the country.
Start with our article about How to Find the Perfect College, then browse our other rankings. Here, you’ll find everything from the 25 Best Online Colleges and 10 Best Tuition-Free Colleges to 30 Most Beautiful College Arboretums and 50 Best College Dining Experiences.