So Many Choices (part VI): Early Decision, Early Action, Rolling Admission, and Open Enrollment- Which Is Best for You?

As if it isn’t enough to pick a major and a college and figure out how to pay for it, now colleges are using admission types (enrollment deadlines and restrictions) that are wildly different from one another to ensure they get the size of class they want, and the types of students they desire. Choosing the right college sometimes isn’t enough; students and parents need to choose the admission process that aligns with your goals, too.

In this article, we’ll explore college admission types, including Open, Rolling, Regular, Early Action and Early Decision. We’ll provide insights into each option, so you can make an informed decision that best suits your family’s needs.

Open Admission: Open admission colleges accept any high school graduate, regardless of their academic performance, until all spaces in the incoming class are filled. Two-year community colleges typically follow an open admission policy.
Best for: Students whose career requires only a certificate or associates degree, those with varying academic performance or those looking to save money by attending a community college for the first two years.

Rolling Admission: Rolling admission is a process in which colleges release admission decisions regularly, sometimes daily, rather than on a set date. Admission committees review applications as soon as all required information, such as high school records and test scores, is received. Applying earlier often results in earlier decisions, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that as classes fill up, fewer spots remain. Rolling admissions decisions are non-binding, giving students until May 1 (or later) to make their enrollment decisions.
Best for: Students who are not ready for EA/ED or need time to compare schools and financial aid awards.

Regular Admission: Regular admission allows students to apply to as many schools as they wish, offering flexibility in the college decision process. Application deadlines typically fall in early January, with admission offers sent out in late March or early April. Students have until May 1 to either accept or decline admission offers. It’s essential to be aware of the specific deadlines for each college, as they do vary.
Best for: Students who want flexibility with their admission decision and don’t want to commit to a school early.

Early Action (EA): Early Action is a flexible option that allows students to apply to colleges before the regular deadline. Students can apply to multiple colleges, receive early admission decisions, and choose to commit or wait. It is non-binding, meaning students are not required to attend the college if they are admitted. Some schools offer an EA II option with a later application deadline.
Best for: Students who have researched their college choices, have application materials ready, and want the peace of mind of an early admission offer.

Early Decision (ED): Early Decision involves applying to a first-choice college before the regular deadline. If admitted, students must enroll and accept the financial aid package offered. Early decisions are binding, allowing students to apply to only one ED college. If admitted early decision, students must withdraw all other applications to other schools.
Best for: Students who are certain about their top-choice college and are comfortable with the financial aid offer (or lack thereof).

Open Admission: Open admission colleges accept any high school graduate, regardless of their academic performance, until all spaces in the incoming class are filled. Two-year community colleges typically follow an open admission policy.
Best for: Students whose career requires only a certificate or associates degree, those with varying academic performance or those looking to save money by attending a community college for the first two years.

Rolling Admission: Rolling admission is a process in which colleges release admission decisions regularly, sometimes daily, rather than on a set date. Admission committees review applications as soon as all required information, such as high school records and test scores, is received. Applying earlier often results in earlier decisions, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that as classes fill up, fewer spots remain. Rolling admissions decisions are non-binding, giving students until May 1 (or later) to make their enrollment decisions.
Best for: Students who are not ready for EA/ED or need time to compare schools and financial aid awards.

Regular Admission: Regular admission allows students to apply to as many schools as they wish, offering flexibility in the college decision process. Application deadlines typically fall in early January, with admission offers sent out in late March or early April. Students have until May 1 to either accept or decline admission offers. It’s essential to be aware of the specific deadlines for each college, as they do vary.
Best for: Students who want flexibility with their admission decision and don’t want to commit to a school early.

Early Action (EA): Early Action is a flexible option that allows students to apply to colleges before the regular deadline. Students can apply to multiple colleges, receive early admission decisions, and choose to commit or wait. It is non-binding, meaning students are not required to attend the college if they are admitted. Some schools offer an EA II option with a later application deadline.
Best for: Students who have researched their college choices, have application materials ready, and want the peace of mind of an early admission offer.

Early Decision (ED): Early Decision involves applying to a first-choice college before the regular deadline. If admitted, students must enroll and accept the financial aid package offered. Early decisions are binding, allowing students to apply to only one ED college. If admitted early decision, students must withdraw all other applications to other schools.
Best for: Students who are certain about their top-choice college and are comfortable with the financial aid offer (or lack thereof).

Choosing the right college application and admission type is a crucial step in the college application process.

Remember, Complete College Advising is here to help you consider your family’s unique situation and priorities and selecting the best admission approach for your the future!

Keep Reading:
So Many Choices (part VII): The Ball is in Your Court

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