REGULAR ADMISSIONSUsually between November and January. The admissions board reviews all applications and sends out acceptances and rejection letters on the same date. Univ of Washington moved to a Nov 15 Regular Admissions deadline beginning Fall 2018.

This is an application program at some schools — usually larger public universities — in which applications are accepted, evaluated and decided upon as they are received. Applications are accepted until the college fills all of its spaces. There is no limit to the number of Rolling Admissions schools to which you can apply even if you apply to EA, ED or REA colleges. WSU is rolling.

EARLY ACTION (EA) I AND II – usually Nov 1 or 15.  NON-BINDING.  Meaning you may apply to multiple schools early and are not committed to attending one until “decision day” on May 1st.” Decision by mid-December.

EARLY DECISION (ED) I AND II     usually Nov 1 or 15.  BINDING.  If accepted, obligated to attend and must withdraw all other applications. That means accepting the school’s financial aid award, even if a better offer might have materialized from another university If he/she does not get admitted to an ED college, the applicant can then apply ED II to another college with a later deadline. Some ED colleges allow students to apply to other early application programs, as long as they are not binding; but others don’t. Decision by mid-December.

RESTRICTED EARLY ACTION (AKA, SINGLE-CHOICE EARLY ACTION)    usually Nov 1 or 15.  Non-binding early action admission option in which a student may not apply to any other private schools’ early program, except non-binding rolling admission programs, a public college or university whose admission is not binding, private colleges regular decision programs, an ED II program, if notification of admission occurs after January 1. Like EA applicants, student has until May 1 to decide if she/he wants to attend the college or university. Schools that offer REA programs are Boston College, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale. Applicants are asked to sign a statement stipulating that they agree to file only one early application.

Having identified all of the above, every year many colleges seem to change what they do about early applications. The best approach to finding out how schools on your college list handle early applications is to go to their individual admissions websites and/or call admissions offices directly. The Common Application website and US News’ Best Colleges 2018 are other good sources.

Many students and parents want to know whether applying early will give applicants an edge. Unfortunately, the short answer is that it depends. Applying early will not help you if you are not a competitive applicant. When push comes to shove, though, “hooked” students tend to have a better chance of getting accepted in early plans. What does “hooked” mean? It is an applicant who has a substantial admission edge if they apply early (or for that matter, regular) admission because they are:

  • A very desirable, recruited athlete
  • An applicant with a distinct, noteworthy talent the college is looking for
  • High potential, under-represented and/or disadvantaged minority students
  • Students who are children of major donors to the college
  • Students who are legacies (children of a parent who is an alumnus)
  • Children of parents who are celebrities, wealthy business executives, politicians and the like
  • Faculty children

Every year, college admissions websites provide information about how many students they admit from early admissions versus regular admissions.   A common mistake is to assume it’s the same at every institution.  Admissions rates can vary due to many factors including gender and academic programs.  Research rates by visiting each school’s website or asking an admissions representative.

There are three outcomes of applying early: Acceptance, Deferral and Denial.