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College Application Deadlines: It is Not Too Late!

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

“Where are you in your college application process?

It may be December, however there are still a few college admissions options still available to consider including Early Decision II (ED II), Regular Decision (RD), Rolling Admission (RA), and Open Admission.

college application deadlines

Perhaps you have little to worry about because you...


If you’re a senior, you may be wiping sweat from your brow and exhaling a sigh of relief as you watch the Nov. 1st Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) deadline in your rearview, knowing that you will likely have a college acceptance letter in your hand by December or January.

Or maybe you...

DIDN'T APPLY EARLY DECISION...well it's not too late!

Did you know there are a significant number of schools that offer an Early Decision II (ED II) option with a deadline typically in January?

The decision is still binding and you can only apply to one school Early Decision, so you’ll find yourself applying to your ED II school and your regular admission schools at essentially the same time.


If you are deferred from Early Decision or Early Action, ED II is essentially a second chance at admission. Your application will be reconsidered within the pool of Regular Decision applicants as though it was being reviewed for the first time.

However, there are many advantages to this: your application is likely stronger than those coming in for the first time in the regular application process, and the extra time and second look gives you the opportunity to show semester-end grades and volunteer and extracurricular activities. Keep in mind that grades and curriculum continue to be the most important factor in considering a student’s college application.

At highly selective colleges, it is not at all unlikely that the majority of students will be deferred: the stakes are high and the talent pool collectively often exceeds those standards.


  1. Decide if the school is still your top choice --- a lot can change in a few months time!

  2. Determine what it is the school wants from you --- most definitely a grade report, but sometimes they are looking for additional recommendations or other information to inform your application.

  3. Make sure you are on top of your regular decision deadlines --- a deferral is not a guarantee of regular admission.

  4. Finally, if the school that deferred you is still your top choice, write a deferral letter letting them know that --- Admission officers need to get to know you to determine if you are a good fit for the school. Take every opportunity you can to show who you are, what you are doing to gain admission, and why you belong at a particular college or university.

EARLY DECISION II...the sequel

One of the biggest benefits of applying ED II is you have a few more months to perhaps improve your SAT/ACT scores and submit mid-year grades. So keep working hard on those high school grades just in case!

While the ED deadline has passed and those applicants can expect to get a decision this month, ED II candidates must submit their applications by January (often the same deadline for RD applications,) and can expect to receive notification by mid-February.

Like ED, ED II decisions are binding and the candidate will be expected to withdraw all other applications therefore you must be sure that the college to which you are applying is in fact your number one choice.


  • Do your research!

  • Make sure to visit whenever possible.

  • Check that your stats are consistent with other applicants

  • Be well-versed in how Financial Aid will affect your application.

ED II becomes a great option for a student who was deferred from their first-choice school.

Early decision + financial aid

One drawback is that ED is a binding decision regardless of the amount of financial aid you are offered. Many schools who have ED options also agree to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. Demonstrated financial need is calculated when a family fills out the FAFSA. Here is a list of schools from U.S. News that meet full financial need requiring NO LOANS! Woo Hoo!

And while in very extreme circumstances a college will let a candidate opt out of Early Decision if their financial circumstances make it impossible for them to attend, this is a pretty rare occurrence. U.S. World and News Report speaks in depth to what happens if you have to back out of a binding ED decision.

college financial aid

Many schools that offer ED or ED II options are private colleges which tend to have a much higher price tag, so it is something families need to consider.

Did you know that there are different dates for federal, college, and state FAFSA deadlines? Applying for financial aid can be a complicated and time consuming process, so make sure you are well aware of these deadlines. The U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid office has all the financial aid deadlines you need to know.

Read more about how applying ED affects financial aid here. Read about creative ways to pay for college here.


However, in the grand scheme of things, most seniors are applying to colleges regular decision. So if you are preparing for the regular decision deadline, which typically ranges from November to March, you are not at all alone.

However applying RD has its implications, too: If only a small percentage of applicants account for ED spots, that means that your application is being considered with majority of the other applicants.

However, Regular Decision offers a student the most flexibility and the most amount of time to prepare a notable application. This is the choice for you if you do not necessarily have your heart set on one particular school and especially if financial aid is a major consideration.

Use this fun and free College Admissions Calculator from Niche to determine your admission chances to any college in the country!


The very best thing about Rolling Admission (RA) is that you will get feedback on your admission status as soon as your application is reviewed. The earlier you apply, the earlier you get a decision, the sooner you can destress knowing you have a college admission in your pocket.

Colleges with Rolling Admission policies continue to accept applications until all the spots for that class are filled. This works the opposite way as well: if you realize that the other schools you applied to are not a good fit, schools with RA offer a last-minute save.

Caveat: yes, it is best to apply as early as you can while many spots for an incoming class are still open, but never sacrifice the quality of your application just to get it in first. A strong application early in the RA process can significantly improve your chances of acceptance.

Be aware of schools with Priority Application (PA) deadlines: schools that have this guarantee that a student will receive a decision on a specific date if the application is submitted by the PA deadline.

Some programs within a college with RA require the application to be submitted by the PA deadline, so make sure you do your research! This can also be true if you are applying for financial aid. Otherwise, the turnaround is generally 4-6 weeks.


Open Enrollment, or Open Admission, is yet another option for students. Typically, community colleges or colleges that grant two-year degrees (sometimes referred to as junior colleges) have Open Admission policies, which means that a student needs only a high school diploma or GED equivalent to enroll.

This removes the competitive aspect from the college application process, and colleges with OA are eminently less expensive than colleges with a more rigorous application process.

While there are drawbacks to this type of admission because nearly anyone can attend, curriculum tends to be less rigorous and graduation rates can be low, sometimes in the teens or single digits-there are significant benefits as well.

Diversity and inclusion drive this type of admission, and it is a great option for students who need more time to prepare for the independence and expectations of a traditional, four-year college.

college acceptance


There you have it: while the college admission process can be complicated and at times overwhelming, rest assured in the fact that there are options for every student out there applying. A little research goes a long way in demystifying college admission.

So...where are you at now?



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