What Is Rolling Admission?
Schools with rolling admission deadlines offer prospective students the flexibility to submit applications within a wide timeframe. Colleges then review applications as they are submitted and typically render decisions within 4-6 weeks, selecting candidates until all open slots for the incoming class are filled.
Rolling admission contrasts with a standard college admission process, which requires prospective students to submit all application materials by a set deadline before the reviewing process begins. Rolling admission cycles typically open in September and continue into the spring semester.
Rolling Admission Meaning
A rolling admission policy means students can submit applications within a large window of time (typically around six months or more), and the university will review applications as they are received. The school will accept students until all slots for the incoming class are filled.
The Advantages of Rolling Admission
You May Have a Better Chance at Admission
While you still need a strong application that meets the outlined expectations, applying early in a rolling admission cycle — when the highest number of open slots are available — can increase your chances of getting in.
You Can Prioritize Applications
Students can use the sizable application window to avoid applying to a large number of schools all at once. Applicants can organize potential schools by first completing early action applications to schools at the top of their list and then applying to schools that offer rolling admission.
Your Senior Year Can Be Stress-Free
Since rolling admission schools respond to applications as they're submitted, students can hear back within 4-6 weeks instead of waiting until the deadline closes for all applications to be reviewed. This means you can find out much sooner in your senior year whether you've been accepted, saving you from needless stress and anticipation. Rolling admission can also allow you to spread out your application process more and avoid filling out a large number of applications all at once.
Rolling Deadline vs. Rolling Notification
It's important to note that while many schools operate rolling admission systems, these systems have key differences. The most notable difference in a rolling admission process is between rolling notifications and rolling deadlines.
Whereas a rolling deadline means there is no set application deadline, schools with rolling notifications inform applicants after a set deadline. These colleges usually contact the strongest candidates first, and continue to do so until all available slots are filled. Our list below includes schools with both admission policies.
Top 30 Colleges With Rolling Admission
Early Action vs. Rolling Admission
Students eager to secure admission into their school of choice may apply through early action. An early action application is non-binding, meaning you may apply to multiple schools and select your preferred institution. Unlike rolling admission, early action deadlines are often set in November, with students notified by December. Early action is not to be confused with early decision, which is a binding agreement that a student will attend a specific school.
Applying through early decision should only be considered by students who feel confident they have found the right academic and financial fit. While early action offers advantages similar to rolling admission by cutting down on admission stress, rolling admission offers the additional benefits of letting applicants spread out and prioritize their applications.
Drawbacks of Rolling Admission
Spots May Fill Up Quickly
Since applications are reviewed as they are received, students who wait until late in the submission cycle may face stiffer competition for the few spots that remain. A qualified candidate that waits until the 11th hour to apply may be more likely to get denied, so it's recommended to not wait long into the application cycle to submit your application.
Rolling Admission Schools May Have Priority Deadlines
Some rolling admission universities, like Penn State, still have priority deadlines and will give greater consideration to students who submit their applications before a set date. Other schools have housing and financial aid systems that operate on a first-come, first-served basis, leaving students who are accepted late in the admission cycle with fewer options.
Whatever the specific process a particular school uses, students should ensure that they put themselves in the best position to earn admission. Before applying, research each school's admissions process to find out what you can do to maximize your chances.