Many students breathe a sigh of relief when they see an admissions deadline weeks or months away. They don’t realize that procrastination can cost them valuable scholarship opportunities or a chance for an alumni interview. Also procrastination can signal that you just don’t care that much.
Rolling admission is commonplace at many colleges and universities. Applications to schools offering rolling admission are often evaluated in the order the completed file (application, essays, transcripts, scores, recommendations, etc.) is received. At many schools, those who apply early are considered more likely to attend. Since the percentage of accepted students who enroll (yield) is considered important at many schools, those who apply earlier may be admitted at a higher rate. In addition, as more applications are received, a backlog typically develops in the admissions office, and students often wait longer for a decision.
For students seeking scholarships, early birds often have the advantage. Some schools just run out of scholarship money. When scholarship money is available, scholarships are often awarded to desirable students with reasonable potential to enroll. Many colleges are reluctant to award scholarships to those who don’t show a compelling interest in the school. Eligible candidates who apply early may be considered more likely to enroll, if admitted.
Many college admissions officers will tell you that when interviews are offered, those who choose to interview are typically admitted at a higher rate than the others. Some schools that offer interviews (on campus and with local alumni) have interview request deadlines prior to the application deadline. In addition, many alumni interviewers are swamped with “last minute” requests from students who waited until just before the deadline to request an interview. Keep in mind that almost all interviewers report back their perception of the applicant’s level of interest. Many familiar with college admissions will tell you that applicants generally don’t wait until the last minute to interview with, or apply to, their “first choice” college.
Keep in mind that some schools require your application to be submitted by a certain date, with supporting information to follow. Other schools have specific deadlines for the various parts of the application.
As an independent educational consultant, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of taking the time to read and understand the various deadlines associated with the schools you are considering. A chart, grid or checklist with the various requirements and deadlines can be extremely helpful. When possible, try to set your own target deadlines in advance of the official deadlines.
Finally, applying to college can be stressful. Getting a head start can not only improve your odds, it can result in early notification, reduced anxiety, and extra time to check to see that all your supporting documentation (e.g. test scores, recommendations, transcripts) are in your application file before the deadline.
Author: Lynn Radlauer Lubell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Independent College Consultant, based in Boca Raton, and the Publisher of InLikeMe.com.