What Is Rolling Admission For College?

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May 18, 2022
What is Rolling Admission?The Purpose Of Rolling Admissions Top Schools with Rolling AdmissionsBenefits of Rolling Admissions Tips for Applying to Colleges With Rolling Admissions Rolling Admissions FAQs Roll Into Your Future with Rolling Admission for College


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/11/22

What is rolling admission? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about rolling admissions for colleges. 

When people think about the college admissions process, they often think of early action and regular decision deadlines. But what if college admissions deadlines were a little less hard and fast? That’s where rolling admissions come in. 

What is rolling admission for college? And what colleges have rolling admissions? In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about rolling admissions. You’ll learn what they are and their purpose, and the schools that use this process. We’ll discuss the best schools with rolling admissions and give you tips for applying.

At this point you’re probably wondering, “what is rolling admission?” The rolling admissions process is different than the standard deadlines you may be familiar with.

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What is Rolling Admission?

Rolling admission offers applicants a broader timeframe to submit their applications. These schools often open to application in September and carry on until spring. 

Some schools that have rolling admissions set priority deadlines. They prefer to have all information submitted by a specific date. Priority deadlines can differ from school to school, with common dates from November through February. 

Priority deadlines are just as they sound. Students who submit before the deadline get priority in the admissions process and typically hear back sooner.

The Purpose of Rolling Admissions

What is rolling admission for college? Rolling admissions means a school gets to fill up its class bit by bit. College applications are reviewed as they’re received, and you could expect to receive an admissions decision between four to six weeks. 

These colleges will continue to offer rolling admissions until all seats are claimed. All colleges aim to admit as many students as they have the resources to educate. 

Top Schools with Rolling Admissions

Although you may be used to rigid deadlines, many schools have rolling admissions. While there are no Ivy League schools with rolling admissions, there are many great colleges with rolling admissions. 

U.S. News World and Report recently ranked the best 13 schools with rolling admissions: 

Table outlining U.S. News World and Report's 13 top schools that use rolling admissions

Those are the best schools with rolling admissions. Many of them rank among the top 100 schools in the United States. Other popular schools with rolling admissions include: 

Table outlining several not top-ranked colleges in the USA that use rolling admissions

Now that you know what colleges have rolling admissions and their priority deadlines read on for the benefits of applying to them.

Benefits of Rolling Admissions 

What does rolling admission mean for you? The rolling admissions process can be especially beneficial for a busy high school senior. We’ll explore all the pros below. 

You May Have a Better Shot of Acceptance 

Rolling admissions stay open as long as there are seats to fill. This means you could have a good chance of getting into one of the top schools with rolling admissions. Of course, you’ll still need an excellent application to captivate the admissions committee and explain why you’re the perfect candidate. 

You should craft a great application and apply early in the rolling admissions cycle (before the school’s priority deadline). In this instance, more seats equal a better acceptance chance. 

You Can Potentially Spend Less Time Stressing

A benefit of rolling admissions is that you can expect a response earlier than you would from a school with hard deadlines. 

Generally, it takes about four to six weeks to hear back about your application. You can send them off in the fall and potentially have your admissions decision before the new year. 

When you submit an application to schools with hard deadlines, you may have to wait months for a decision. While some people are okay with that, rolling admissions means less anticipation and anxiety due to shorter admissions decision wait times. 

Early Rolling Decision Applications are Non-Binding 

Unlike early decision or single-choice early action programs, you are not bound to a school with rolling admissions if you apply early. 

If you get accepted, you’re under no obligation to enroll. Many students wait for other schools to get back to them with admissions decisions. Meanwhile, they breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that a school has accepted them. 

You Can Stagger Your Applications 

If you’re applying to many schools with rolling admissions, you don’t have to send in your applications all at once. Some students may prioritize their applications by applying to their first-choice schools through early action or early decision programs and then rolling admissions applications afterward. 

Spreading the application process means less work for a prolonged time. This method could work better for seniors juggling multiple responsibilities. 

You Can Apply Later 

While it may not be the best method to ensure you’re accepted, you can apply at any time in the rolling admissions window. Students may apply later for numerous reasons. 

Some students have busy lives. Some stagger their applications for less work at once. Some have other situations that pop up in their senior year they weren’t prepared for or that were beyond their control. 

Whatever the reason, it helps to know what colleges have rolling admissions. That way, you can prioritize your time accordingly.  

Tips for Applying to Colleges with Rolling Admissions

What does rolling admission mean for your applications? The college application process can be lengthy, but that doesn’t mean you have to agonize over it. 

We’ll walk you through some of the best ways to ensure your rolling admissions applications are a hit with admissions committees. 

Don’t Wait Too Long To Apply 

Rolling admissions accept students and fill seats little by little until they have a whole class. Rolling admissions give you the luxury of applying any time in the application window, but it's in your best interest to apply as soon as possible. 

Sending in your application earlier in the window generally means there are more seats available. Therefore, there is a statistically better chance you’ll be accepted. 

Handle Your Application With Care 

Although schools with rolling admissions generally aren’t the nation’s most competitive schools, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed acceptance. 

You should strive to always put your best foot forward in any application, whether you’re applying to a school that offers rolling admission or an Ivy League school

Plan Ahead to Achieve Excellent SAT or ACT Scores 

Many schools have recently adopted a test-optional policy for a predetermined set of admissions cycles. However, some colleges still want to see your SAT or ACT scores

Your standardized test scores show admissions committees your academic aptitude and college readiness. Many colleges use your scores as a barometer of how well you’ll perform at college. 

Give yourself enough time to prepare for either test. The SAT and ACT are fairly challenging, lengthy exams. They require speed and accuracy. How long you spend studying depends on what score you aim for and your foundational knowledge. 

Take the test well in advance so you have time to retake it if necessary. Many high school students take the SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. Whenever you decide you’re ready to take the test, make sure you’re doing everything you can to set yourself up for success. 

Secure Your Letters Of Recommendation 

Recommendations are a crucial piece of any college application. These letters help the admissions committee gain an outside perspective on your personality, academic excellence, how you work, and your general attitude. 

Even if you’re applying to a school with rolling admissions, your should ask your recommenders for letters well before the deadlines. You want to ensure your recommenders have enough time to provide a detailed account of who you are and why you’d be a valuable asset to a college. 

Keep Your GPA Sailing High 

Even if you’ve submitted all of your applications by the new year, your senior year is not the time to let your grades slip. Although GPA isn’t everything to college, it helps admissions committees assess your academic aptitude. Strive to keep your GPA as high as you can to show you’re ready for college-level courses. 

Although you’re undoubtedly going to be very busy in your senior year, it’s essential to perform well the entire year. When you enroll at a college, they’ll often ask for a final report detailing your grades for all coursework. You want to ensure that what the college sees reaffirms you were the right choice! 

Read All Application Directions Carefully 

College application directions: read them once, and reread them (or as many times as needed). You want to ensure you have all the pieces required for the admissions committee to make an admissions decision. 

While many colleges use the Common Application or the Coalition Application, some schools use their own application portal. You should be especially mindful when using different portals for submitting applications to different schools with rolling admissions. You want to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Some school websites might provide a checklist for you, but you should create your own where you can tick off the boxes as you gather application materials. Creating a specific list for every college you apply to will help you stay organized and reduce stress. 

Don’t Neglect Your Essays 

Beyond test scores and GPA, you should take extra care to weave compelling essays. These essays create a window into your life. They shed light on your background, character, personality, and how you deal with difficult situations. 

Beyond showing off your excellent writing skills, the admissions committee evaluates your candidacy qualitatively. Schools often have their set of core values they hope all staff and students abide by on campus. If you can carefully interject these qualities into your essay, you can reinforce you’re the right fit for the school. 

Give Yourself a Better Chance With Priority Deadlines 

It’s not mandatory to submit all your materials by priority deadlines. Still, if you have the time to submit everything before the deadline, you’ll have a better chance of acceptance. 

While you can undoubtedly apply after a priority deadline, it’s called “priority” for a reason: there will likely be fewer seats to fill if you decide to apply after. 

Rolling Admissions FAQs

Still have questions about what rolling admission is? We’ve got you covered. 

1. Do Ivy League schools or other top-ranked schools offer rolling admissions? 

No, none of the Ivy League schools have rolling admissions. As for other top schools, Purdue University is the only university with rolling admissions that cracks U.S. News World and Report’s top 50 Best National Universities.

2. Besides priority deadlines, what other types of deadlines are there? 

If you’re not concerned about applying by a priority deadline, there are still other deadlines to consider. Ensure you check each school’s websites for more information omg deadlines for financial aid, housing, and scholarships. 

3. What’s the latest I can submit a rolling admissions application? 

The final deadline to submit your application and materials varies by school. They will continue to accept applications until the class is full. That said, you can generally expect schools to not accept any more sometime in the spring to summer. 

4. If a school has rolling admissions, are they less competitive? 

The answer depends on the school. Programs with rolling admissions are generally less competitive than Ivy League schools or the top 25 national universities. 

However, that doesn't mean you’re guaranteed acceptance. You should still work hard to polish your application. Some rolling admissions schools may be considered “reach” schools for you, depending on your profile. 

5. Are rolling admissions binding? 

No. Unlike early decision or single-choice early action, applying to a school that has rolling admissions is not binding. You can still apply to other early decision, early action, and regular decision programs. 

Students typically have until May 1 to decide if they want to accept an offer from a school that has rolling admissions. 

6. What do acceptance rates look like at schools with rolling admissions? 

Acceptance rates depend on the school and program. For example, recent data showed Penn State’s acceptance rate of 54%, while the University of Kansas's acceptance rate is 91%. 

Roll Into Your Future with Rolling Admission for College

So, what is rolling admission for college? In short, it’s a system that gives you breathing room with your applications. Schools that have rolling admissions stay open to applications as long as there are seats to fill. 

Applying to schools with rolling admissions can be a great way to stagger your college applications, apply to colleges earlier, enjoy less stress and receive your admissions decision sooner. 

If you want to apply to schools with rolling admissions, it’s always in your best interest to apply as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of acceptance. As seats fill up, you generally have a lesser chance of acceptance. 

To ensure your application stands out, treat it with the diligence and care you would with any other college application. If you submit a well-crafted application before a priority deadline, you’ll maximize your chance of acceptance.

Now that you know what schools have rolling admissions, you’re ready to start applying! 

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