Admissions Timelines and Deadlines
Different colleges have different application deadlines and timelines under which students need to submit their applications. Dates vary and students are always advised to check the college's website for up to date information - or even call the admissions office if you have doubts or need clarification about a deadline.
With all deadlines, students are STRONGLY advised to submit early - from a day to a week prior to the final deadline - due to glitches and crashing computer systems which can be disastrous for students who wait until the last minute.
THINGS TO KNOW -
The University of California and the Cal State University systems have one application filing period. For the UCs, it is from November 1 - November 30. For the Cal States, students can begin submitting applications on October 1, but must submit no later than November 30.
Other timelines are offered by various colleges and include Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision and Rolling Admission. The dates for these application deadlines can vary from school to school, but what follows are definitions:
EARLY DECISION: You may only apply to ONE college which offers Early Decision. It should be your very most favorite school which you love above all others and would jump at the chance to attend. You sign a contract (as do your parents and LJHS counselors) saying you WILL attend if admitted. Sounds great, eh? Well, the downside is that you may not find out your financial aid package until much later so you need to be sure that this school that you love is a great financial fit for your family as well. Usually Early Decision dates are November 1, but sometimes November 15 (especially in the COVID year of 2020, some colleges have moved back their dates to give students and counselors a bit more time with the paperwork). If you apply Early Decision, you may apply to other schools which offer non-binding admission but you must withdraw those applications if admitted to your Early Decision school. You will usually receive an answer from your ED college by the end of the year or early January.
EARLY ACTION: This is a non-binding early application, meaning you may apply to more than one college which offers Early Action and you can wait to make your decision until all of your financial aid offers have been received and you can compare which college is offering what. You will still hear back early (usually by the end of December or early January) and you have until May 1 to make your decision.
With Early Action and Early Decision there are three possible outcomes: admit, deny or defer. If you are admitted with ED, you do a happy dance, withdraw other applications and are done. With EA, you also celebrate and wait to hear from all your schools. If you are denied under either of these programs, that is the final decision from that school - you are not reconsidered and you cannot reapply for Regular Admission. If you are deferred, your application is set aside for another look with all of the candidates who apply under Regular Decision and you will hear the final result when all others hear - usually in mid-late March, but sometimes as late as April 1.
Parents - financial aid forms (FAFSA and CSS Profile, if required) are often due when the early application is due, so check those dates!
REGULAR DECISION: Again, dates vary by school, but for many schools which offer Early Decision and/or Early Action programs in the fall, Regular Decision dates tend to be from early January to mid-February. Students will hear results by mid-to-late March. Regular decision can have three possible outcomes - admit, deny or wait-list. If a student is asked if they would like a place on a school's wait list, they should opt in if they feel they would still attend this school if offered a spot. Wait list notifications can drag on through the summer, so a student should carry on as if they are attending their next choice by submitting their registration documents and enrollment/housing deposits.
ROLLING ADMISSION: A program with a broad application window. Often opens in September and depending on space available at the school, can stay open until the spring. When a student applies, they will usually hear back quickly - from a week to six-weeks. It is really nice for a senior to find a school with a rolling admission policy where they are a strong applicant - and apply early, so they have one positive answer to give them peace of mind!
AFTER YOU APPLY:
Check your email: Checking your email frequently is SO important during the entire process. After you apply, colleges will email with additional information such as whether a part of your application is missing or information on housing, scholarships, or interviews. They will also provide you information on setting up a "Portal" where you can create a login and check on the status of your application or possibly receive additional information. You should check both your email and your portal every few days.
Mid-year reports: If your college required you to send a transcript when you applied, they will want to see a transcript of your first semester senior year grades (often referred to as a mid-year report). Follow instructions from your counselors on completing this step. If you applied through Common App, you probably don't need to do anything. If you needed to send your preliminary report by snail mail when you applied, you will probably need to replicated that. When in doubt, ask your counselor.