Pros and Cons of Rolling Admission

Defining Rolling Admission

Many colleges and universities employ rolling admissions policies. Rolling admissions give students a long period of time in which they can apply. These colleges and universities make admissions decisions typically on a bi-weekly basis during the open application window. Colleges may choose to accept or reject an applicant right away, or they may hold off for several admissions cycles in order to compare him or her to other applicants. Colleges and universities will continue to accept applications until space has filled. Students who have been admitted typically still have until May 1st to make a decision, though policies vary by school.

Oftentimes, colleges with rolling admissions will have some sort of priority deadline for financial aid, scholarships, and special programs. These deadlines are usually around the same time as typical regular decision deadlines for other colleges.

Like any admissions program, rolling admissions has its benefits and drawbacks:


Potentially early notification It is a great feeling to know as early as October or November that you’ve been admitted to college. Even if it isn’t your first choice school, having that safety net can be a major stress reducer.

Ability to demonstrate interest by applying early If you apply during the first round of admissions, colleges will know that you are interested. As a result, colleges interested in protecting their yield will be more likely to admit you and other students who have applied early.

Better access to scholarships by applying early For most rolling admissions programs, schools dole out financial aid and scholarships on a rolling basis as well. This means that the earlier you apply, the sweeter the pot.

Increased housing options for early applicants Applicants who are admitted early and then choose to matriculate early may, at some schools, have the first selection of housing. This can be a good motivator to get those applications in.

Later absolute deadlines Sometimes the college search isn’t so neat and organized. You might come upon a school you love after regular decision deadlines. If the school has rolling admissions, you can still apply, sometimes even up until the start of classes. Again, this can be a great stress reducer for students who might have struck out during the college process but want to enroll somewhere in the fall. That said, admissions and financial aid preference nearly always goes to earlier applicants so try your best to apply early!


The waiting game Since schools with rolling admissions can often shelve applications for weeks at a time before making admissions decisions, the lingering unknown can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes classmates have been accepted from the college but you still haven’t heard anything. This can lead to anxiety and frustration at times.

Limited financial aid and scholarships for late applicants If you do decide to apply after the priority deadline, chances are you will face steep competition both for admissions and financial aid. If you know you want to apply to a school that has a rolling admissions program, apply early if at all possible.

Limited housing options for late applicants Oftentimes housing options are limited for later applicants. Students who enroll later in the year may be stuck living off campus and commuting.

No first semester grades Some late bloomers need their first semester transcripts to boost their GPA. However, by waiting until the end of the semester to apply, students are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Students who want to show colleges their first semester grades are in a difficult position for rolling admissions schools and must make a gamble.

A Non-Exhaustive List of Colleges and Universities with Rolling Admission

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