Rolling Admission Explained

18/12/20238 minute read
Rolling Admission Explained

Relatively few universities offer rolling admission for undergraduate programs. But if you come across one, you’ll need to know how it works and how it affects your application strategy. In this blog, we'll explore all of the details surrounding rolling admission: what it means when applying to college, its pros and cons, how to decide if it's the right choice for you, important dates to note, and how rolling admission influences your chances of admission.

What is Rolling Admission?

In rolling admission, students submit their materials within a flexible window. Applications are reviewed as they come in, and students are notified about their acceptance or rejection on an ongoing basis.

This contrasts regular admissions with fixed application deadlines and a specific notification date. Instead, rolling admission offers a more fluid timeline. It eliminates the pressure of a single deadline, providing applicants the opportunity to apply earlier and potentially receive decisions sooner. 

While colleges review applications as they’re received, there may still be a priority deadline, or a date by which a school prefers to have information submitted. 

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the school fills all of its spaces for the year.

The different timeline of rolling admission impacts application strategies, decision-making, and the overall college application experience. This post will empower you to navigate this process confidently.

Is There a Limit to the Number of Schools I Can Apply to via Rolling Admission?

There is no limit to the number of rolling admissions schools to which you can apply —  even if you apply to Early Action, Early Decision, or Restrictive Early Action universities.

Are Rolling Admission Decisions Binding?

No, rolling admission decisions are not binding. If you’re admitted via rolling admission, you typically don't have to decide whether to enroll until May 1. So you can wait until your other Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Decision letters come in before deciding where to attend.

Advantages of Rolling Admission for Applicants

1. Flexibility in Application Deadlines

Rolling admission allows students to apply within a broader timeframe. This offers flexibility if you need more time to prepare — or if you want to apply earlier in the admissions cycle.

2. Quicker Decision Timelines

When you apply under rolling admission, you likely receive your decision earlier. This enables you to plan ahead and make informed choices about college options sooner than in traditional admission processes.

3. Higher Acceptance Rates

Due to the ongoing review of applications, rolling admission institutions often have higher acceptance rates compared to those with fixed deadlines. This gives you a better chance at securing a spot at one of these institutions.

4. Opportunity for Early Admission

Some rolling admission schools offer early admission to exceptional candidates. These students secure their spot well before the usual notification period and enjoy peace of mind for the rest of application season.

Steal This Strategy: Pick the Right Time to Submit College Applications

Disadvantages of Rolling Admission for Applicants

1. Prompt Action Requirement

Rolling admission demands swift action from applicants. Since spots are filled progressively, those who submit later might face more competition or limited availability within their desired programs. It’s important to be proactive and prepared for the best chance of acceptance in rolling admission.

2. Uncertainty in Available Slots

Applicants applying later might find certain programs filled, which can limit their choices. This uncertainty underscores the importance of submitting your application early to secure your spot, as spaces become increasingly limited.

Which Colleges Offer Rolling Admission?

According to US News, 143 National Universities in the US offer rolling admissions.

These are the 10 highest-ranked National Universities with rolling admission according to US News:

Highest-Ranking Universities That Offer Rolling Admission
SchoolU.S. News RankApplication Priority Deadline
Rutgers University–New Brunswick (NJ)40Dec. 1
Purdue University–West Lafayette (IN)43Feb. 1
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities53Nov. 1
The Pennsylvania State University60Nov. 30
Binghamton University–SUNY 73 (tied)Jan. 15
Indiana University–Bloomington73 (tied)Feb. 1
University at Buffalo–SUNY76Nov. 15
Rutgers University–Newark (NJ)82Dec. 1
Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)98 (tied)Jan. 15
Rutgers University–Camden (NJ)98 (tied)Dec. 1

Strategies for Applying to Rolling Admission Schools

Rolling admission can inform your overall application strategy. Here are some tips for maximizing rolling admission opportunities.

1. Early Preparation: Begin gathering application materials well in advance to ensure a smooth and timely submission. Seriously, don’t wait until 12th grade! See our ultimate college application timeline to help you plan your college applications.

2. Research Schools: As always, understand the unique qualities of each institution and tailor your applications accordingly. This blog post offers strategies for researching universities and demonstrating your interest.

3. Highlight Strengths: Emphasize your achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities that align with the institution's values and mission.

4. Submit Early: While there's flexibility, early submission can increase chances of acceptance, especially in highly competitive programs. This also ensures ample time for reviews and potential follow-up if needed.

5. Craft a Compelling Story: Use the application to showcase personal growth, experiences, and aspirations.

The Bottom Line

Rolling admission is a dynamic approach to college admissions. It grants students more flexibility and a quicker decision-making process. By strategically navigating this system, you can enhance your chances of getting into your desired institutions. Embrace the opportunities offered by rolling admission and embark on your college application journey with confidence!