Some colleges have rolling admissions, which means that they accept applications on a continuous basis up to a certain deadline. One major advantage of rolling admissions is that your child is notified of the college's decision soon after he or she applies, rather than waiting until March or April, when other colleges send out notifications.
Even though the application deadline is more relaxed, your child should not wait until the last minute. Generally, financial aid and housing are still give out on a first-come, first-served basis. While federal aid (including loans) will be available (if you file the FAFSA), scholarships are limited.
You know that rumor about students gaining an edge by applying to a college early decision? It's true! Early decision means your child applies in the fall and hears the good news by winter break. Colleges tend to accept more early decision applicants because the students who apply under early decision are usually exceptionally high quality and certain to attend. That's because they have to...or ELSE! Your child should consider the following before sending in an early decision application:
- "Do I really want to go to this college?" If accepted, your child is bound to attend and he or she cannot change his or her mind.
- "Do I want to apply to other colleges, too?" He or she is not allowed if applying early decision.
- "Do I fit the academic profile of the college?" If not, then early decision probably will not help his or her chances of getting in.
- "Am I ready to apply to OTHER colleges if I am not accepted under early decision?" If your child is not accepted under early decision, he or she will automatically be considered as a regular decision applicant. Applying to a college under early decision shows that your child is sincerely interested in the college, so he or she may get brownie points during the regular application review; but your child is not guaranteed a spot, so he or she should apply to other colleges just in case.