Instant Decision Day: What It Is and How It Works

What is instant decision day? Keep reading to learn about instant decision day colleges and find out whether they're a good fit for you.

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by Staff Writers

Published March 16, 2022

Reviewed by Lonnie Woods III

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Instant Decision Day: What It Is and How It Works


While many students have likely heard of early decision day, they may be less familiar with instant decision day.

Not all colleges and universities offer instant decisions, but those that do provide immediate admission decisions following a review of required documents and an interview with the prospective student.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

For many students, this process can take away some of the stress of admissions season while still allowing them to apply to other schools. Keep reading to learn more about what instant decision day entails as well as its pros and cons.

What Is Instant Decision Day?

Instant decision day, or ID day as some schools call it, alleviates the pressure of applying to a college and waiting weeks — or even months — to hear back.

During these events, which typically take place at high schools or local colleges, prospective students spend 15-20 minutes interviewing with an admissions officer from a particular institution.

After the interview ends, the student is told immediately whether or not the school will extend an offer of admission. While highly competitive schools typically do not offer instant decision days, many others do. When held directly at the institution, students also have the chance to tour campus and meet current students.

What Is Transfer Instant Decision Day?

In addition to ID days for first-year students, some universities provide immediate decision opportunities for students looking to transfer from community college to a four-year program.

Transfer ID days typically require students to complete an application and submit copies of their transcripts prior to the meeting so advisors can see which classes will transfer and whether students meet prerequisites and GPA requirements. Students who have already attended multiple colleges must bring transcripts from each school.

How to Prepare for Instant Decision Day

Before interview day rolls around, students should make sure they gather all required documentation and adequately prepare. Required materials typically include the following:

Students should also conduct research on the school(s) they're interested in and ensure they meet the general requirements for instant admission. Admissions counselors will review documents during the process, but they will also ask students questions about their interests and goals and invite students to ask questions as well.

Pros and Cons of Instant Decision Day

Pros

  • Some schools waive admission fees for students who go through the instant decision process.
  • Instant decisions are non-binding, meaning students can apply to other institutions.
  • Learners do not have to wait to learn their admission fate.
  • Instant decision day interviews are often less stressful than other types of college interviews.
  • Students may not need to travel to campus since recruiters sometimes come to them.

Cons

  • First-time students may feel they are not getting the traditional college admissions process experience.
  • Learners may not get to visit campus if admissions officers come directly to their school.
  • Competitive schools typically do not offer instant decision days.
  • The college may offer less financial aid if it feels you'll likely only apply to that school.
  • Schools may set a date by which students must commit to the college or lose their place.

How Do I Learn More About Instant Decision Day?

Prospective students interested in participating in instant decision day can learn more about the process by arranging a meeting with their school's guidance counselor.

These professionals can provide learners with more information about how the process works, local colleges and universities that participate, and information about basic requirements. They can also help learners begin compiling all required documentation.

Additionally, students can research schools online to learn whether they offer instant decision days and who at the school they can speak with to learn more about the college's expectations for applicants.

Frequently Asked Questions About Instant Decision Day

Are instant admission decisions binding?

Unlike early decision, instant admissions decisions are not binding for students. This means that even if a school offers you immediate admission, you can still apply to other schools and wait for their decisions.

That said, some instant decision colleges may specify a deadline by which accepted students must let the school know whether or not they plan to attend.

Are instant decision days available for any major?

Whether or not instant decision day offers access for all majors depends on the college. Some schools may only provide general admission to the school at large, requiring students to seek secondary admission to specific programs. This is especially common for particularly competitive programs, or those that require some type of performance (e.g., theater, music, etc.).

Will I receive financial aid information with my admission decision?

It depends on the college. Some schools provide information about merit-based financial aid at the same time they offer an instant admissions offer, while others send this information at a later date.

Students whose decision-making process relies heavily on financial aid offers should ask admissions officers about the institution's policy early in the process so they know what to expect.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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