What are Rolling Admissions?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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Many college admissions programs are strictly regulated by date. People have set times in which they must apply to the college. The admissions board usually won’t review applications prior to the beginning of this time, and they’ll seldom look at them after the last date for application ends. For students applying to college, this can be burdensome, since schools that have these programs usually have similar deadlines, and it can take work to complete all applications in a set period of time. The contrast to this is rolling admissions, which have no set deadlines, so students can apply early or late, and will usually keep receiving applications until they’ve filled all places for incoming students.

There are a number of schools that use rolling admissions. It’s a popular admission method in quite a few state universities. They may or may not have “end” deadlines, where applications must be turned in by a certain point, and they may consider some applications after deadline too. The principal advantage is they often don’t have “start” deadlines. This means students can turn in their applications much earlier to see if they’ll be accepted to a certain school. This can help calm frazzled nerves about getting into colleges or help make decisions about other school applications.


Unlike the deadline admission approach, applications in rolling admissions programs are reviewed on a fairly constant basis. This typically means people will hear within four to eight weeks of application. This doesn’t mean that they must immediately inform the college they’ll be attending it. Many schools operate by the Candidates Date Reply Agreement (CDRA). This asks students to inform whether they’ll be attending by a specific date, usually in the beginning of May.

The CDRA is helpful because students can apply early to rolling admissions schools and apply to other schools that accept applications by certain deadlines or within specific time periods. Usually, most students are informed of acceptance to most colleges they’ve applied to before May, so they’ll have time to determine which college is best for them. If no college has invited the student to attend, they might look for schools that are still accepting applications through rolling admissions to see if they get into one.

It is extremely important to bear in mind that lack of deadline doesn’t mean students have forever to turn in applications. They are better off turning them in early; in fact, earlier is better. An application period may end sooner than expected if all places are filled through early applications. Certain things like student housing, could go to the first applicants and be unavailable to later applicants.

Applications for financial aid are not rolling applications to get the most help. Many grants, state aid and scholarships applications need to be in by a specific date, usually at the end of February. Check with the school’s financial aid department about these dates, as they are often inflexible. Some types of aid like student loans might be applied for at any time of the year, but grants and other state aid usually only go to people who have applied on time.


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