What Is Rolling Admission For College?

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October 24, 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 does rolling admission mean? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about rolling admissions. 

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. 

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about rolling admissions. We’ll discuss the best schools with rolling admissions and tips for applying.

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What is Rolling Admission?

Colleges with rolling admissions offer applicants a broader timeframe to submit applications. These schools often accept applications from September until spring. 

Some rolling admissions colleges set priority deadlines. They prefer to have all information submitted by a specific date. Priority deadlines can differ by 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. 

Why Do Colleges Do Rolling Admissions?

Schools do rolling admissions to fill up classes 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 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 that do have them. 

U.S. News World and Report recently ranked the best 13 schools (in order) with rolling admissions

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

Many of these schools rank among the top 100 schools in the U.S. Other popular schools with rolling admissions include: 

Now that you know the colleges with rolling admissions, read on for the benefits of applying to them.

Benefits of Rolling Admissions 

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

You May Have a Better Shot at 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. 

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 equals 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. 

How long it takes for a rolling admissions decision varies, but you’ll generally hear back in about four to six weeks. 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 aren’t bound to a school with rolling admissions if you apply early. 

If 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 rolling admissions colleges, you don’t have to send in your applications 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. 

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 admissions window. Students may apply later for numerous reasons. 

Some students have busy lives or choose to stagger applications. Some have other situations that pop up in their senior year they weren’t prepared for or 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

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. This gives you the luxury of applying anytime in the application window, but it's in your best interest to apply as soon as possible. 

Submitting applications earlier 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, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed acceptance. You should strive to always put your best foot forward in any application, whether 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

Many colleges use your scores as a barometer of how well you’ll perform at college. 

Take the test well in advance, so you have time to retake it if necessary. Whenever you decide you’re ready to take the test, ensure 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, you should ask your recommenders for letters 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 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 possible to show you’re ready for college-level courses. 

Read All Application Directions Carefully 

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 mindful when using different portals for schools with rolling admissions. You want to ensure you don’t miss anything!

Some school websites might provide a checklist, but you should create your own, where you can tick off boxes as you gather 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 write compelling essays. 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” because there will likely be fewer seats to fill if you decide to apply after.

Rolling Admissions FAQs

Still have questions about what rolling college admissions are? We’ve got you covered. 

1. Do Ivy League Schools or Other Top-Ranked Have 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. What’s the Latest I Can Submit a Rolling Admissions Application? 

The final deadline to submit your application varies by school. They’ll 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 or summer. 

3. 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 the nation’s top universities. However, you should still work hard to polish your application. 

4. Are Rolling Admissions Binding? 

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

5. How Long Does It Take to Hear Back With Rolling Admissions? 

After submitting your application, it takes approximately four to six weeks to receive your admissions decision.

6. Is Rolling Admissions Harder to Get Into? 

It depends on what schools you’re comparing; generally, schools with rolling admissions are less competitive than the nation’s top universities. 

7. What Is the Difference Between Rolling Admission and Regular Admission? 

Regular admissions have concrete deadlines, whereas you have a window to submit applications through rolling admissions. 

8. What Are the Best Colleges With Rolling Admission? 

The three top-ranked colleges with rolling admissions are Purdue University—West Lafayette, the University of Pittsburgh—Pittsburgh Campus, and Pennsylvania State University—University Park.

9. What Are the Deadlines for Rolling Admission? 

Rolling admissions deadlines and priority deadlines vary depending on the school. 

Roll Into Your Future with Rolling Admission for College

In short, rolling admissions colleges give you breathing room with your applications. Applying to these schools can be a great way to stagger your college applications, apply to colleges earlier, enjoy less stress, and receive your admissions decision sooner. 

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. Now that you know what schools have rolling admissions, you’re ready to apply! 

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