What students should know about rolling admissions
Thanks to rolling admissions, candidates are able to submit their applications to institutions within a larger window. Source: John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

Submitting a college application on time is the single most crucial part of the admission process. You may have spent countless hours putting together a stellar application complemented by an outstanding essay and some impressive recommendation letters, but all that work will not count if you do not submit it in time. 

It’s clear deadlines can be extremely stressful, so why not get rid of them? Well, some institutions actually are. Instead of following the standard structure of receiving all applications by a certain date and only then beginning the process to review them all, colleges and universities with rolling admissions evaluate applications as they arrive. 

With a wider time frame comes more flexibility. Rolling admissions benefit students as they will be able to spend as much time as they need to work on their application pressure-free. 

Not only do these colleges and universities review applications as they come, they typically render their decisions within four to six weeks or possibly even sooner. Admissions officers will continue to do this until all available slots are filled. Early notice will allow applicants to come up with alternative choices if they are not accepted. It also makes it easier for future international students to plan ahead. 

Rolling admissions

Suzane Nazir uses a Princeton Review SAT Preparation book to study for the test. Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

At La Trobe University in Australia, terms are now running every six weeks starting this month. The university offers its online campus students the opportunity to begin their study abroad journey early, allowing them to complete two subjects per term (four subjects is the equivalent of a full-time semester). In light of the ongoing pandemic, this method puts students on track for a smoother transition to on-campus life once travel restrictions relax.

Meanwhile, there are some schools that offer rolling admissions that still come with deadlines. Michigan State University (MSU) in the US encourages students to send in their applications by Nov. 1, 2020 for a decision by Jan. 15, 2021 and maximum scholarship consideration. 

While MSU is a moderately competitive school with an acceptance rate of 71%, it is important to remember that the competition could be tougher when applying to other schools. With that said, getting your application submitted on the earlier side of the admission window is highly encouraged. Since this process enables colleges and universities to evaluate applications and offer acceptance on a first-come-first-serve basis, your chances will be much higher if you stay ahead.

Another important fact to remember is that not all institutions treat rolling admissions in the same fashion. Students should always be sure to check with every school they’re applying for and confirm they are on track with the process. If you’re strategic about it, choosing a school with rolling admissions can work to your advantage.