When Do College Applications Open?

Completing college applications can be a daunting part of the college process. Learn when applications open and when you should start working on them.
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Updated on July 7, 2023
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  • Most college applications open August 1, with submissions due in January.
  • Many students apply using the Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • There are distinct differences in applying for early action, early decision, and regular decision.

It's important to know when application submission windows open. Since filling them out can take a long time, you will need to plan appropriately so you don't miss college application deadlines.

Most students, on average, apply to 4-10 schools. Because many schools begin their application cycles the summer before your senior year of high school, starting early can give you a jump start on your applications.

In the 2022-23 school year, nearly 7 million applications were submitted through the Common App alone. Read on to learn when college applications open for fall 2023 enrollment.

When Do College Applications Open for Fall 2023?

Many colleges open their applications in August or September for admission the following fall. The application window is typically open through January, giving applicants an average of 4-5 months to complete the paperwork and submit all required materials.

Access to most application systems, such as the Common Application and Coalition Application, begins August 1, 2023. These two application systems are popular because you only need to fill out one application for all schools you apply to.

About 150 schools accept the Coalition App, whereas over 1,000 schools accept the Common App. In addition, some colleges have their own independent application processes apart from the Common App and Coalition App, with varying application deadlines.

Because of the different due dates, you'll need to look at each college's website to figure out which application it accepts and when its deadlines are.

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When Does the Common Application Open?

The Common App opens August 1 every year. This is also the earliest date you can submit your application.

To determine whether your school of interest accepts the Common App, you can either check your college's admissions website or search for your school's name using the Common App website's explore feature.

Even though the Common App is not available until August 1, many of its components can be completed before this date. If you fill out the Common App tab before August 1, the information will transfer to the new application season, except for the writing section and letters of recommendation.

When Does the Coalition Application Open?

The Coalition App usually opens in July or August each year. That said, you can start building your Coalition profile early.

Coalition for College encourages applicants to start during ninth or 10th grade, as the profile makes up 70% of your application to Coalition schools.

The Coalition App was created in an attempt to provide better access to higher education to those who are under-resourced or from historically underrepresented groups.

You can see whether one of your selected schools uses the Coalition App by checking the member schools list.

When to Apply to College: 3 Deadlines to Consider

Applications can take weeks to complete because you need to compile information about yourself, your family, and your academic career. Colleges have strict admission deadlines, so knowing whether you're applying early action, early decision, or regular decision is key to planning.

Early Action

Students who apply early action get an earlier admission decision, usually in December. Early action plans are considered nonbinding agreements, meaning you don't have to commit to attending that school should you get in. If accepted, you'll have until the normal reply date of May 1 to make your decision about where to attend.

You may want to apply early action if you've extensively researched the college and know the school is your first choice.

If you're planning to apply early action, start working on your application the summer before your senior year. Most schools set early action deadlines in November, but you should verify deadlines with your prospective schools.

Early Decision

Like early action, applying early decision means you'll hear back earlier from your school, typically in December.

Early decision offers are binding agreements, meaning you must attend the college if you get in. As a result, it's best to only apply to a school early decision if it's your dream school and you're 100% committed to attending if admitted.

Students who are considering early decision should start working on their application the summer before their senior year. With early decision, deadlines usually fall around November. Be sure to confirm your early decision deadline with your chosen college.

Regular Decision

Students who apply regular decision go through the normal process for admissions. This means you'll typically receive a decision no later than April 1.

If you choose to apply regular decision, make sure you start working on your applications at least 4-6 weeks before your application deadlines. Most regular decision deadlines are in January.

What If My School Has Its Own College Application?

Some colleges elect to have their own applications and do not use application systems like the Common App and Coalition App. In other words, they maintain their own proprietary applications, which you can usually access through the schools' official websites.

Many schools with their own applications are private colleges. Check your college's admissions website to determine when its application cycle opens.

Proprietary applications often have extra requirements, such as specific essay questions and recommendation letters. Because deadlines are often earlier than those for most other universities, you'll need to plan ahead.

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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