What Are the College Application Deadlines?

A lot of the college application process is about deadlines so you have to keep track of them.  Let’s go over the deadlines and what to prepare before you apply. 

The Deadlines

Regular Decision (RD)

Regular decision is the most common application for a four-year university. If you get accepted, it is not binding.

The most common regular decision deadline is either January 1st or 15th. Some colleges have unique deadlines in November or December, so be sure to check with your college for their dates. Regular decision applicants usually hear back around March or April.

Early Action (EA)

The early action deadline is just like the regular decision, but earlier. Usually, if you get accepted it’s not a binding commitment like it is for early decision. 

A good amount of applicants get deferred when they hear back. EA is becoming more popular and therefore more competitive each year. Being deferred means your application is put into the RD pool of applicants and will be looked at later. Meaning you will likely hear back in March or April. 

 Normally the EA deadline is November 1st or 15th. You will typically hear back from EA around December. 

Early Decision (ED)

Early decision is a binding agreement you have with the school you choose to apply to. If you get accepted into the school ED, you must enroll in the school. This is reserved for your first choice of school. You should have no doubts that this is the school you want to attend. 

Some schools also offer Early Decision ll. This is the same thing, as in it is binding, but the deadline is pushed back. 

The ED deadline is November 1st or 15th. For schools with ED ll, that deadline is most commonly January 1st or 15th.  You will normally hear back from ED in December and ED ll in February. 

Each school is different when it comes to ED and financial aid. Before applying, talk with the school’s financial aid office to discuss what their process is. 

Rolling Admissions (RA)

Rolling Admissions is more common for state universities. It allows students to apply at any point during the admissions process. 

It can get a bit confusing since many rolling admissions have a priority deadline in November or December. If this school is towards the top of your list, a great way to get your application seen quicker and show your interest is the priority deadline. 

RA can be open from September up to July. Students are accepted on a rolling basis meaning there is no set date when students find out, but they’ll be alerted of the decision upon review. When it comes to rolling admissions, the sooner you apply, the sooner you hear back from the school. So always try to get the application in sooner rather than later.

What to Prepare

Each school asks for different things. Some schools don’t require test scores and some do. Make sure you check with the college as to what you need to prepare for the application. Here are some of those things:

Test Scores

Before applying to college, students normally take the SAT or ACT. Students can take these tests more than once in order to improve their scores. 

You should have the scores you are happiest with ready by the end of your junior year. This way you don’t have to worry about it as you are applying for schools. 

You are able to take the tests in your senior year too but you want to make sure you have scores to send it by the college’s application deadline.

Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters are important in the college application process. They give schools a good opportunity to get to know your personality, accomplishments, and learning style. 

Always ask your teachers early to give them plenty of time to write a letter. Discuss with your teachers about what you want to highlight about yourself so they can include it. 

Try asking in the first weeks of senior year to get the best results. 

Personal Essay

This is one of the most important parts of the college application. Essay’s can be tough since many times there is a word limit and it’s hard to fit everything you want to say.

Think about what you want to write about early. End of junior year or the summer before senior is when you should begin to brainstorm. 

Here are some questions to get you started in thinking about your essay topic:

  • Has there been a specific moment that has altered the way you look at the world?
  • What are the parts of your identity you are most or least proud of?
  • What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
  • What has been the hardest thing you have had to overcome?
  • Is there something in this world you see differently than other people?
  • Do you have a unique opinion about any topic?

Give yourself time to write, and rewrite and rewrite again and again and again until the essay is in good shape. Leave time to have your friends, family, and mentors to look at it and give feedback. 

You should give yourself ample time, so start writing two to three months before the deadline. 

Other Things to Prepare

Here are some other things schools will normally ask you for that you should be aware of

  • Academic transcript
  • Essays unique to the school
  • Description of your extracurricular activities
  • FAFSA® (the deadline for the 2022-23 school year is June 30, 2023 and the deadline for the 2023-24 school year is June 30, 2024, filing early is recommended)

A big part of the stress of senior year is college application deadlines. Make sure to mark your calendar so you can stay on top of everything that you need to.

For informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. Chase is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third-party products, services, or other content. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.