Applying to college is an exciting time. Students are about to make a big decision that will have a lasting impact on their lives. Students will have many different options when it comes to applying to colleges, but a question a lot of students ask our team is, “when to start applying for college?”
When To Start Applying For College?
The college application process can be a long and drawn out process. Most students will start the college application process in the fall of their senior year of high school – this can be different depending on which colleges you are applying to and specific deadlines they may have. We will talk more about early decision, early action, regular decision, and rolling admissions later in this article.
The summer going into your senior year of high school is a great time to start thinking about the college application process. Students should start to narrow down their list of colleges – have a couple of reach schools, match schools, and safety schools on your list. If you have a couple of schools you are interested in, take a college visit.
Think about and reach out to teachers, coaches, or mentors about writing a letter of recommendation – if you wait too long, they might not have enough time to write you a letter of recommendation. Make sure you are happy with you ACT or SAT test scores. If you need to take the test one more time, schedule it for the fall testing window.
Start to brainstorm topics for your college essay. Students who spend time thinking about and planning their college essay will have a much more engaging essay and will stick out to college admissions staff members. While the actual process of applying to college will take place in the fall of a student’s senior year, much of the process happens well before that.
Regular decision is the most common deadline for students applying to college. Most regular decision deadlines will be in January and February. The exact date depends on the specific school, but January 1st, January 15th, and January 31st are all popular deadlines for regular decision.
When to Start Applying for College – Regular Decision
Students will have the opportunity of applying to colleges early and have a decision back from the school earlier than students who chose to take the regular decision route. The two options students have for early admissions are early decision and early action – the two options are a little different but have a similar deadline of November 1st.
The main difference between early decision and early action is the binding agreement students agree to. Students who decide to take the early decision process are required to attend that school if they are accepted. Students who apply using the early action process will receive an early response to their college application but will not have to decide until May 1st. Students who use either of these options will know their fate by mid-December.
When to Start Applying for College – Early Decision or Early Action
Schools that have a rolling admissions process accept application during a set period of time – usually from the fall to the spring. Most schools that offer rolling admissions accept applicants on a first come, first serve basis.
Some schools might offer a priority deadline which means that students who apply by that deadline will have an advantage. Students who apply after the priority deadline will still have a chance to get accepted but will not have an improved chance.
When to Start Applying for College – Rolling Admissions
Let’s recap some common deadline when applying to college:
- Regular Decision – Most deadlines will be in January or February. Some popular deadlines are January 1st, January 15th, and January 31st. Check with your school to see the exact deadline.
- Early Admissions – Whether you are doing early decision or early action, the deadline to submit your college application will be November 1st. Students should hear back about their decision around mid-December.
- Rolling Admissions – Timeframe to submit college application usually ranges from fall to spring. The earlier you can apply the better. Check to see if school offers a priority date.
|Common Application||The common application is one of the most popular applications for students to apply to college.|
|College Essay Help||Our total guide on writing the best college essay. Our outline will help set you up for success.|
|Financial Aid (FAFSA)||Students should fill out the FAFSA to see if they qualify for any federal financial aid.|