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What is Rolling Admission?

a dad and daughter celebrate her college admission news

As you prepare for your college applications, it may feel like there are so many new terms to learn and countless admissions decisions to navigate. That's normal; you're not alone if you feel that way.

We talk to students in your position all the time. When we do, we consistently get asked about rolling admissions. In this article, we explain what rolling admissions are. Then we share tips for deciding whether or not to apply this way. 

The Basics of Rolling Admission 

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.

We talked to Stephen Lazowski, Vice President for enrollment at Thiel College, to get the inside scoop on rolling admissions. Thiel College is one of the many rolling admissions schools.

Lazowski told us that rolling admissions benefit students who don't want to be pressed against a hard deadline. They are also helpful for a student who didn't land a spot at their top-choice college or didn't receive enough financial aid at a college where they were accepted.

When Do You Apply for Rolling Admission? 

Each school will have its own rolling admission timeline. But in general, the best time to apply to a rolling admissions school is in the fall or winter, as more institutional funding will be available for student financial aid. Lazowski said students who apply before February 15 typically are eligible for this funding.

However, it's important also to remember that each school still has a limited number of places available despite accepting applications on a rolling basis. So they may actually fill up before the rolling admissions cycle ends.

Is Rolling Admission Better Than Regular Admission?

Applying by rolling admission isn't necessarily better than applying for regular admission. It's just a different admissions process that may or may not fit your needs.

Who Should Consider Applying for Rolling Admissions?

Students with grade point averages of 2.75 and higher typically are considered serious applicants at rolling admission colleges, Lazowski said. But rolling admission schools can also be a good fit for transfer students.

When applying to rolling admissions colleges, it is essential to note your accomplishments. "Most schools now are looking beyond test scores," Lazowski explained. He added that many colleges like Thiel are testing optional, so admissions counselors look at a wider range of attributes now. "Everything you do in school counts, and everything you do outside of school counts, too."

Why Do Colleges Offer Rolling Admissions?

Rolling admission helps ease the burden of the traditional admission process and reduces stress. Admission counselors can assess candidates as their applications arrive. This can be especially helpful for schools with fewer admissions officers on staff.

What Are Priority Deadlines in Rolling Admission?

A priority deadline isn't a hard deadline. But schools with priority deadlines will prioritize applicants who apply within the designated time frame. This helps them build their freshman class with some certainty while still allowing the flexibility of rolling admissions.

Tips for Applying to Colleges With Rolling Admissions

Let's discuss some best practices for applying via rolling admission. Keep in mind these tips are helpful whether you submit your application for regular admission, early action, or early decision.

Read the instructions carefully

Completing your application will require quite a few pieces of information, like transcripts and your high school resume. Some schools use an application portal, whereas others use the Common Application. It's essential that you read and understand what each school is asking for so you don't miss anything. Then stay organized and on track as you collect the required pieces.

Stagger your applications

You can use the rolling admission process to your advantage by completing your early action or early decision applications and then applying to colleges with rolling admission. Spreading out your applications like this gives you more time to apply to colleges with less stress.

Secure your recommendation letters

Letters of recommendation give admissions committees a more in-depth view of your personality, academic achievement, work habits, and overall attitude. That's why they are so critical to your application package.

To get the best possible letters from your recommenders, ensure they have plenty of time to write them for you.

Work on achieving your best SAT or ACT score

There are many test-optional schools out there. So you may have the decision whether or not to submit your scores. But there are still some colleges that require test scores. So your best bet is to take the SAT or ACT early so you can retake it as often as needed. That way, you'll be sure to have a score you're proud of.

Write a strong essay

Beyond test scores or GPA, your college admissions essay is one of the best ways to make an impression on the admissions team. So take your time and work through several rounds of revisions when writing it and your personal statement.

Apply early

While schools admit students by rolling admission, they fill seats gradually until they reach their enrollment goals. Sure, you can apply anytime during the rolling enrollment period. But it is best to submit your rolling admissions application earlier rather than later so you can secure a spot and financial aid. Plus, you'll get your decision earlier too.

Keep your GPA high

Even if you submit your application in the fall of your senior year, your spring semester grades still matter. Sure, GPAs aren't everything. But they are factored heavily into admissions decisions.

Don't forget to demonstrate interest

If you apply to a college with rolling admissions, it's a good idea to visit the campus, our expert Lazowski explained. It shows admissions counselors that you're serious about attending the school and sets you apart from other applicants.

Visiting the campus is just one way of demonstrating interest, which we've discussed before. "The more interest you show in the school, the more likely you are to get in," Lazowski said. "Schools are going to take chances on students who come to visit."

Search for Schools with Rolling Admissions

Now that you know all about rolling admission, it's time to use Appily to build and manage your college list. Maybe you need to add a few more schools, or you're just starting.

No matter where you are in your journey, we're here to help to make your college search and selection process as successful as possible. Just click the button below to get started. It's always free and easy. 

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