College applications can be hard for any high school student to complete, even if they know and meet all their expected deadlines. You have to submit admissions essays, results of your SAT and/or ACT test, partial and full high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and maybe even a portfolio. Each school you apply to has different requirements to follow.

In this article, we will help you understand the most common type of deadlines you will see when applying to college and what to expect when applying. For more information, you should talk to a student coach today.

Talk to an Admissions Officer

It can seem intimidating to contact an admissions officer from the school you are interested in attending for college, but you should do so anyways. Contrary to the stereotype, admissions officers want to hear from you. They like it when you call and ask important questions because self-starting students are what they are interested in when deciding who gets admitted and who does not. For the most updated and relevant college deadlines for your admission application, you should contact an admissions officer at your prospective college.

College Deadlines

Here are the most common types of admissions periods you will find when applying to college. If you have a preferred type of admissions, you can search for prospective colleges using the admissions types as search words on Google or Bing.

Regular Admissions

Applying to college with a regular decision application is a standard application. You apply by a certain date and you find out your application status by a certain date. It is very straightforward. Deadlines vary, but you usually have until December 1st to apply to college. From then, you will have to wait several months while the colleges decide whether you, along with thousands of other students, deserve to attend their college. You will usually learn of the college’s decision by mid-March but this depends on the college. When in doubt, contact the admissions office.

Rolling Admissions

Rolling admissions are great for students who want to apply to college, but fear they will miss a deadline, or do not want to wait for an application period to open. You can apply at any time of the year. The advantage to using rolling admissions is that you can also be accepted at any time of the year. If you are behind in your college applications, or you want to re-take the SATs, you should consider applying with rolling admissions.

Early Decision

Applying for early decision is great for prospective college students who have one college they want to attend. Once they are accepted to that college, using early decision, they must accept the admissions offer, while rescinding all other offers from other colleges. As such, each student can only apply using early decision to one school. While the deadline to apply for early decision is November 1st, you should contact the college admissions office at the college of your choice to learn the exact deadlines.

Early Action

Applying to college during an early action period is great for prospective students who want to apply to a college without making a binding agreement to attend. With early action, you do not have to attend the college you get into. While deadlines vary depending on the college, it is usually November 1st. Contact your prospective college admissions office to be informed about their early action deadlines.

NOTE: Although early decision and early action sound similar, they are not the same. Make sure you are not committing to a college by accidentally applying for early decision when you meant to apply for early action!

Final Submission Deadlines

You are most likely going to be applying to college as a freshman. The first set of deadlines you need to look at are the final submission deadlines for your application. These are the last sets of deadlines for your college application to be considered for the term you are applying for. Each college offers different deadlines.

Some colleges offer three dates per year that you can apply (one for each of the Fall, Winter, and Spring semesters). Other colleges require all new students to apply for the Fall semester. Check your college admissions page or contact a student coach today.

Early Admissions Deadlines

While not every student applies within the early acceptance deadline, there are benefits to doing so. Early acceptance is just that: it is a window of time where you can apply to college and receive your admissions results quicker. Unlike other students who apply by the final deadline and wait agonizingly for their admissions results until April or later, you can apply early and find out before the first day of Spring, or even earlier! It is a huge weight off your chest and learning of your early acceptance will allow you to spend the rest of your senior year anxiety-free. To apply early, contact a student coach to help you today.

You do not need to apply early to college if you do not want to. Many students take a break after high school, especially in Europe, and they take the time to travel and mature a little before they decide exactly what they want to study. College will always be there so maybe this is something you should consider. In addition, applying to college even one semester after your friends can allow you to bolster your college admissions package, which will improve your chances of acceptance.

When to Start Applying for College

If you already know which college you want to apply to, and which major you want to pursue, you can formally start the application process a full year prior to the final deadline. In that time, you will be studying for standardized testing, getting strong letters of recommendation, perfecting your college admissions essay, and more.

Informally, the process can start much earlier. Many parents put their children in extracurriculars starting in grade school so their children can build an appealing resume for when they apply to college, even ten years later. This is why you always hear of the prodigal student who was the president of five school clubs, spoke eight languages, published a book, started a business, and/or became a nationally-ranked athlete. If you have not had this type of childhood, do not worry about it. You can still build a strong admissions package during your final year of high school, especially if you sit down with a student coach and discuss your application.

Take the SAT or ACT as early as possible, provided that you have enough time to adequately study for the tests. If you do not do achieve your desired scores on the tests the first time you attempt them, you can always study and take the tests a second or even third time. Your college will not be jeopardized simply because the admissions officer sees that you retook a standardized test, especially if you improved your scores. In fact, they will love the progress you have shown, and this may be the difference between being accepted or not.

When to Expect Your Admissions Results

Depending on when you apply, you will be provided with a date by which the college will contact you. They may do so by mail, email, or telephone. At that point in time, they will send you a letter detailing the results of your admissions package. If you are rejected, they may offer a reason as to why you were. They may tell you their institution is full and you are on a waitlist for admissions. They may tell you to retake the SAT, for instance, and achieve a higher grade. They may tell you to re-apply next year and focus on strengthening your application. Again, one of the best things you can do is contact an admissions officer if this occurs.

If you are accepted, you will receive further instructions to solidify your placement at the college. They may ask for a deposit, first year’s tuition and fees, and more. They may provide you with a conditional offer depending on your final high school grades. Each further step will have deadlines of their own, and all will be explained to you once you are accepted.

The Final Question: Which Application Cycle is Right For You?

Millions of college students find success every year, regardless of which application type and cycle they choose to use. Others find success when applying earlier than others. Every student’s situation is unique and therefore you should evaluate your preparedness for future college studies, the state of your application, and whether you can improve your application by applying later. If you would like to increase your GPA, do a bit more interning or volunteering, or obtain a specific recommendation letter from a source, you should considering applying later. If not, applying to college or university can be done earlier.

The same applies to financial aid. If you do not know if you can go to a school without financial aid, do not apply early decision. Wait to receive your financial aid status, as well as see if you have qualified for scholarships, grants, loans, etc. before making a final decision to apply to a specific college.

To understand and plan out the next steps in your college admissions process, whether you are rejected or accepted from a certain college, contact a student coach today.