Rolling Admission: What Is It and How Does It Work?

A student standing on college textbooks.

Are you considering college applications and unsure what “rolling admission” means? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide. We’ll explain what rolling admission is, the application process, and the advantages and disadvantages so that you can understand how it works. Don’t be overwhelmed by deadlines and different cycles; we’ll break it down for you.

What is rolling admission?

Rolling admission is an advantageous college admissions process that allows prospective students to submit applications and receive decisions earlier than with a traditional, deadline-based system. Numerous renowned universities employ the rolling admission approach, though some may have priority deadlines that afford extra preference to earlier applicants. Despite this, rolling admission can immensely benefit any student, making the college application process quicker and easier.

How does it work?

Rolling admission gives applicants a specific window to submit their applications, which can be several months before classes begin. As opposed to having a static application deadline, many schools accept and evaluate applications continuously until all spots are filled.

What is the purpose of rolling admission?

A student jumping for joy after getting into college through rolling admission.
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Rolling admission has been implemented to make the college application process more convenient for all parties involved. With this system, students can submit their applications at any point and receive a decision in a timely manner, while institutions can fill available positions gradually over the course of the admission period. Ultimately, this helps to streamline the entire admission process.

Pros and cons of a rolling admission

Some pros of a rolling admission include the following:


1. Improved chances of getting admission

Rolling admissions can be beneficial for those who submit their applications early, as they may have a greater chance of being accepted while slots are still available.

2. More opportunities to explore

Students have the advantage of being able to apply to multiple institutions without having to stress about meeting a single application deadline.

3. Option for making an earlier decision

Making an early decision about college can be incredibly helpful for students, as it allows them to plan their future more accurately.

4. Greater flexibility

Rolling admissions provide students with the flexibility to obtain a quicker response on their admission status compared to traditional admission timelines.


Some cons of rolling admission include the following:

1. Rigid timeframe

Due to the lengthy admissions process, students must adhere to strict timeframes, particularly if they are applying to multiple institutions at once.

2. Slower response rates

Due to the absence of any pressing deadlines with regular admissions, students may experience a variable response time when awaiting a decision, and it could take longer than anticipated for them to receive a response.

3. Priority deadline

Rolling admissions programs often establish priority deadlines, giving applicants who submit their paperwork earlier a greater likelihood of acceptance when compared to those who apply closer to the final deadline.

4. Uncertainty regarding school choice

Students may want to wait until they have received a response from all the universities they applied to before deciding which school to attend.

Is rolling admission right for me?

Making the decision between rolling admissions and regular admissions is a personal one that depends on different factors such as time management, priorities, and the number of schools to which one applies. Generally, rolling admission is advantageous for decisive individuals with a solid application that can be refined promptly. It may not be the best selection for those who prefer to take their time and struggle with quick decisions.

How to use it to your benefit?

A student waiting to get into college through rolling admission.
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Rolling admissions offers a range of benefits to applicants. To ensure you make the most of it, submit your application as soon as possible to make quicker decisions. Do some research on the schools and list down your preferences in order of priority. With rolling admission, you can receive multiple offers and compare them to make an educated decision. Stay organized throughout the process and take advantage of the extended deadlines.

List of colleges with rolling admissions

This is not an extensive list of universities with rolling admission! But these few popular or well-known ones are a good place to start! So, here are some top colleges offering rolling admission.

College Deadline Acceptance rate Average annual tuition
Rutgers University-New Brunswick Nov 1 68% In-state tuition: $15,804

Out-of-state tuition: $33,005

Indiana University Bloomington Nov 1 85% In-state tuition: $11,333

Out-of-state tuition: $38,352

Purdue University Nov 1 69% In-state tuition: $9,992

Out-of-state tuition: $28,794

University of Pittsburgh Dec 1 67% In-state tuition: $20,362

Out-of-state tuition $35,394

Arizona State University Jan 15 89.8% In-state tuition: $11,348

Out-of-state tuition: $29,438

University of Minnesota Twin Cities Jan 30 73% In-state tuition: $15,254

Out-of-state tuition: $33,818

University at Buffalo Feb 1 70% In-state tuition: $10,782

Out-of-state tuition: $28,702

Michigan State University After Feb 1 78% In-state tuition: $14,750

Out-of-state tuition: $40,562

Pennsylvania State University Aug 1 56% In-state tuition: $17,900

Out-of-state tuition: $32,382

Merit-based vs. Need-based rolling admissions

The table below outlines the fundamental contrasts between merit-based and need-based rolling admissions. Note that the exact requirements and procedures may differ across institutions.

A table about scholarships and deadlines

Comparing the different types of deadlines

Rolling admission Regular decision Early decision Early action
Application timeline Extended window with applications accepted over an extended period, often starting early in the academic year. The deadline typically falls between December and January for submission of applications. You usually have to apply by November. Like early decision, the deadline is usually in November.
Notification timeline Rolling basis, with decisions typically provided within a few weeks to a few months after application submission. Notifications are typically released in late March or early April. December or January is when students are usually notified. Notifications are released earlier, aligning with the early decision timeline.
Flexibility Allows for a flexible application timeline. The standard application deadline provides a clear timeline for submission. Early decision is binding, meaning the student must attend if admitted. Early action offers an early decision but without a binding commitment.
Admissions rate and competition Admissions rate may vary depending on the institution, but there is often less competition compared to regular decisions. Typically more competitive due to a larger pool of applicants. Early decision is highly competitive as applicants demonstrate a strong commitment to attend if admitted. Early action is competitive but without a binding commitment. Less intense than the early decision.
Financial aid and scholarships Financial aid and scholarship consideration may be available, but availability may vary depending on the institution and timing of application submission. Financial aid and scholarships are typically available. Both are available, but there is likely limited flexibility. Scholarships and financial aid are typically available.
Decision commitment Non-binding Non-binding Binding Non-binding

Common misconceptions about rolling admission

Quality and standards are lower

Contrary to popular belief, rolling admission institutions provide high-quality education and uphold stringent standards. They are just as excellent as other institutions in terms of offering quality education.

It is a backup plan

Many students think of rolling admissions as a “backup plan.” However, you should still take this application seriously and put your best effort in. If a rolling admission school is one of your safety schools, make sure you secure it with a great application, even if you’re aiming higher.

It is an easy route

Rolling admission programs do not make getting accepted into a college or university easier. In fact, competition for these programs can be just as fierce as regular admission. More likely than not, you still have to write college essays and stand out to be accepted.

Guaranteed acceptance

A rolling admissions model does not automatically guarantees acceptance to all applicants. It is important to note that applications are still carefully evaluated against criteria such as test scores, transcripts, and essays.

There are no deadlines

Rolling admissions do not have a hard timeframe, but there are priority deadlines that students should be aware of in order to increase their chances.

The big picture

A graduation cap and diploma surrounded by education icons.
Image by Freepik

Rolling admissions can be a great tool to help you get accepted into your dream school, but it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the process before making a decision. It’s also important to know where and how to use rolling admission to your advantage. This knowledge will help you decide which school best fits your needs and goals.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for rolling admissions if I miss the regular decision deadline?

Yes, if you missed the regular decision deadline, rolling admissions can still give you the opportunity to apply for admission. Ensure that you are aware of the deadlines and other requirements for the schools that offer rolling admissions. That’s the most important part. You don’t want to spend all that time creating your application, and be late.

Can I apply to other schools while waiting for a decision from a rolling admissions school?

It is possible to apply for admission at other schools while waiting for a response from an institution that uses rolling admissions. Nevertheless, keep in mind that certain colleges may have regulations that necessitate withdrawing other applications when you accept an offer of admission. It also depends on the deadlines. Double-check them!

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