What is a rolling admissions process for college or university? As you prepare your college essays or medical school personal statements, you do not want to worry about the nuances of different admissions processes, so we’ve got you covered! In this blog, we’ll be discussing what makes a rolling admissions process different from other application processes and tips for preparing your application. Plus, we will give you our review of the pros and cons of this admissions process that you need to keep in mind while you prepare your applications.
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What is Rolling Admissions?
The application process can vary between different colleges and universities, but most postsecondary institutions follow one of the following admissions processes:
Which Schools and Programs Have Rolling Admissions
There are thousands of schools and programs in the United States that use rolling admissions. While there are blogs that have lists of schools that use rolling admissions, it is important to remember that such lists are not comprehensive and may be out of date. The best way to learn whether the school of your choice uses regular or rolling admissions is to check their official website or write to the admissions office directly.
Many undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools use the rolling admissions process, so before you start preparing applications to your schools of choice make sure to find out what kind of process they use. For example, most medical schools in the US participating in AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS, have rolling admissions. Check out the medical school application timelines to learn more about rolling admissions in US medical schools.
Check out our video for more information about rolling admissions:
Important Things to Know about Rolling Admissions
There are several important things you need to keep in mind about rolling admissions procedures before you apply.
A “rolling” deadline does not mean “no deadline”. While the application window for rolling admissions is usually much longer than that of a regular admissions process, there is still usually a final cut-off point for applicants. You need to make sure you know when the application window closes for the year.
Applying early is crucial. A rolling admissions process is not an excuse to procrastinate. If anything, applying early brings some very important advantages to you as an applicant. Ideally, you should apply as soon as the rolling admissions process opens. Why? The biggest reason is because programs get filled up bit by bit. Since offers are sent out on a rolling basis, schools will keep making offers until all available spots in a program are filled. For popular programs, this may mean that the available spots are snapped up sooner than you might expect. The earlier you apply, the more spots will still be available in the program. The longer you wait, the fewer the spots, and the harder it is to secure one for yourself!
Applying early also means that your application will be assessed on its own merits, as the admission committee will have fewer fellow applicants to compare you with.
Another advantage is that the earlier you are accepted, the sooner you can begin making housing arrangements and applying for financial aid. Both housing and financial aid is limited at many institutions, so getting your foot in the door before the rush is a major bonus. It will save you a lot of time and stress later on.
A final advantage is that applying early means that you will find out quite soon whether you have an offer or not. This assurance can in turn help you weigh your options and figure out your plans. It can help you decide whether you wish to keep trying with other schools, or whether you would like to just commit and start preparing for your studies. Either way, an early offer gives you clarity and security.
“Rolling admissions” does not mean “easy admissions”. Some students believe that a rolling admissions process automatically means an easier admissions process in terms of academic standards for those who apply early. This is not necessarily true. The rolling admissions process does not mean that you do not have to meet GPA requirements or submit poorly written essays. Rolling admissions processes still reject unqualified or weak applicants. An underwhelming academic record or sloppy application will still damage your chances of getting into your program of choice. Don’t fall into the trap of slacking off – treat your rolling admissions application with the same level of commitment and care as you would a regular admissions application.
Tips for Preparing Your Application
As mentioned above, you need to put just as much work into your application for a rolling admissions process as you would for any other. Check out some of our tips below for preparing your application:
- Ace your SAT/ACT. If you are applying to college, a rolling admissions process can help you plan out when the best time would be to sit your SAT/ACT. Look up SAT/ACT test dates and compare them to when the rolling admissions open up, to give yourself a sense of how much time you have available for test-taking. Make sure you write your SAT/ACT as early as you can, so that you will have enough time to re-take the test if your scores are low.
- Get your letters of recommendation ready. A strong letter of recommendation requires time and care to write, so make sure you tell your writers when you plan on submitting your rolling admissions application. Letting them know when you hope to submit will help them plan their writing accordingly. Give them at least several weeks’ notice (6-8 weeks is ideal). Remember, the sooner your entire application is complete, the sooner the admissions committee can review all of its components and make a decision about your candidacy.
- Start working on your college essay or personal statement. If your school requires an essay or personal statement, you need to start working on it as early as you can. Writing a strong essay or personal statement will require several drafts, so give yourself at least six weeks to complete your essay.
- Take stock of your GPA. GPA is the key indicator of academic ability, so the higher your GPA, the more competitive your application will be. If you have been struggling with any of your coursework, it’s important to come up with a game plan to address the problem. You can take action through private tutoring, study groups, or even re-taking courses you didn’t do well in.
- Keep up with your extracurriculars. Extracurriculars are an important component of many college applications. They show you are a well-rounded applicant, and reveal something about your interests. Volunteering, team sports, afterschool programs, and even hobbies are all extracurriculars you can highlight in your application. To demonstrate your academic prowess and curiosity, try participating in a conference or a colloquium with a persuasive speech. Admissions committees are impressed by students who dedicate their time and energy to developing skills outside of school walls.
- Make sure you are aware of deadlines. While the rolling admissions process is usually very generous with its timelines, you still need to make sure you are aware of any final submission dates. Make sure you are also aware of any deadlines for housing and financial aid for your school of choice.
Are you writing your college essays or personal statements? Check out our video for tips:
Pros and Cons of Rolling Admissions
Applying through a rolling admissions process brings a set of advantages and disadvantages in comparison with a regular admissions process. Let’s take a look at some of each:
Pros of Rolling Admissions
Cons of Rolling Admissions
Here's a quick reminder of what's important for the rolling admissions process:
1. What is a “rolling admissions” process?
A rolling admissions process assess applicants on a continuous, or “rolling”, basis. Applications are reviewed once they are received, and offers/rejections are sent out as soon as a decision has been reached.
2. How can I find out if a school has rolling admissions?
There are several websites that have compiled long lists of schools that offer rolling admissions, but it is important to remember that such lists are not comprehensive and may be out of date. Your surest bet is to check the official websites of the schools you are interested in to learn which admissions process they currently use. Some application systems like Common App will also help you explore the different application processes offered by your schools of choice.
3. How long does it take to hear back?
Response times vary between schools, but receiving an answer is usually quite fast: typically within 4-8 weeks of submitting your application.
4. Does it matter how early or late I apply?
It does! The earlier the better. This is because spots in the program will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Delaying your application may mean missing out even if you’re a strong applicant. For other early advantages, see “Important Things to Know about Rolling Admissions”.
5. What are some important things I should know?
A rolling admissions process will usually still have a final deadline. A rolling admissions process is not easier than a regular admissions process, so you still need to craft a strong application. You should also consider deadlines for housing and financial aid when choosing when to submit your application.
6. What are the pros and cons of rolling admissions?
Some of the pros of rolling admissions processes are their advantages for early applicants, the speed of response, and the way they give you plenty of time to coordinate when to take your SAT/ACT. Some of the cons include the fact that submitting early is still a major advantage, so procrastinators will still be at a disadvantage. Popular programs can fill up quite quickly, so applying later means even a well-qualified applicant might miss out on a spot.
7. Are rolling admissions used only for undergraduate programs?
No, the rolling admissions process is used by a variety of programs and schools all over the United States. For example, most medical schools in America, whether they participate in AMCAS or TMDSAS, use rolling admissions.
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