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Applying Late to College? There’s Still Time to Get Accepted

a male student applies for colleges on his laptop wearing headphones

Applying to college can be a stressful process. For many students, the deadlines for submitting applications can feel like impending doom. The last thing you want is to miss them.

But what if you find yourself in the spring of your senior year, unsure about where you want to go to school or not quite ready to submit your application? Applying late to college can be scary, but it's not always a deal breaker. Thousands of students apply and are accepted each year outside the traditional application timeframe.  

In this article, we'll talk about why some students apply late and how to find colleges that accept applications in late spring and summer. So whether you're trying to get a couple more applications in or are facing extenuating circumstances that have held you back, we've got you covered. We also have expert advice from our friend, Brenda High, a College and Career Coach. 

Why Would a Student Apply to College Late? 

Besides being unprepared, there are several valid and strategic reasons why a student might apply to college later in the spring of their senior year. We'll explain now. 

  1. To improve their grades

If a student struggles with some classes earlier in the year, they may choose to take the second semester to improve their grades. By applying later, they can demonstrate that they've turned things around and are a strong candidate for admission.

  1. To improve their test scores

Similarly, a student may decide to retake the ACT or SAT to improve their score. Applying later in the spring or even summer gives you time to retest and submit higher scores. 

  1. To submit additional applications

By early spring, students who applied to ED or EA schools will know if they've been admitted or not. If they want to need to, applying later in the cycle could open up a backup plan. 

  1. To give additional time  

Some students may be indecisive about where to apply and need more time to research and visit schools before deciding. Applying later in the spring or summer gives them more time to make an informed decision. 

  1. To accommodate extenuating circumstances

A student might have experienced a personal illness or family emergency that prevented them from meeting traditional application deadlines. In that case, applying later would allow the student to get applications when they can.

Is it Too Late to Apply to College? 

As we alluded to in the opening of this piece, there are plenty of options for you to apply later in the spring and into the summer. So no, it's not too late to apply to college. Some schools have late application deadlines, others have rolling admission timelines, and some have last-minute unfilled seats in their freshman class.

With these options, you won't have to worry about trying to submit a late college application. We will discuss all of them next. 

What Colleges Are Still Accepting Applications?

If you want to apply for college but feel you missed the traditional application deadlines between November and January of your senior year, you have a couple of routes to choose from. Let's dive into each of these options now. 

Colleges with Rolling Admissions

With rolling admission, you can submit your application at any time within the rolling admissions period, and the college will review your application in the order it comes in. This is opposed to colleges with a single admissions deadline, which most students are more familiar with.

Colleges and universities with rolling admissions take applications until they fill their freshman class. Once that happens, they conclude their rolling admissions cycle.

To find schools with rolling admissions, log into your free Appily account. 

Colleges with Late Application Deadlines

Hundreds of schools have application deadlines extending into June, July, or August. Most of them with later deadlines are not as competitive, but they're still excellent schools. You can see school application deadlines in your free Appily account. 

Or Forbes has a comprehensive list of schools with late application deadlines here

Colleges on the National Association for College Admissions Counseling's (NACAC) Late Openings List

One other option is finding a school that's listed on NACAC's College Opening Update List. Each year, in early May, NACAC publishes this list of colleges and universities that still have openings for the coming academic year. The list is made up of various schools that didn't fill their first-year class despite working through their traditional application cycle.

Ideally, we don't advise students to wait around to slide into a spot from this list. But the list can be helpful if you want to submit an extra application once it's posted in May.

What if You Missed the Application Deadline? 

If you want to apply to a school but their admission deadline has passed, it's best to reach out to an administrator. If there's a reason you missed the deadline, such as a family emergency or unforeseen circumstance, mention that in your discussion. You should also be clear on the materials they want to be submitted with their application, how they should be sent to them, and when. The last thing you want is to be unorganized if you're hoping for a break.

How to be Competitive When Applying Late to College

If you're applying later than you might have wanted, you're probably feeling the pressure to ensure your application is just right. So we talked to our friend, Brenda High, a College and Career Coach, and asked her for advice on how to be a competitive applicant. Brenda gave us the following (expert) tips:

  • Have a strong, impactful, and well-written college essay.
  • Demonstrate your interest by participating in extra-curricular or volunteer activities related to your career interests.
  • Demonstrate your interest by doing in-person or virtual tours of the schools you are interested in attending. If they are doing in-person sessions in your area, you should attend. It's essential that admissions representatives see and interact with you.
  • Communicate with your college representative or the admission offices regarding any questions you may have.
  • Make sure you meet all of the required deadlines.
  • Use your manners: don't forget the importance of the words "please" and "thank you."

In all, you want to be engaged. Colleges want to admit students who will attend, so show that with your actions and words. For additional tips on demonstrating interest, click here

Looking for a College to Apply to?

If you need help finding the right fit, sign up for Appily and fill out your profile. Appily will match you with schools that are a great fit and prompt you to explore those you might not have considered. You can also make yourself visible to colleges by letting them know you're interested.

Just click the button below to create a free Appily account. 

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