Rolling admissions policies enable universities to consider applications year-round, rather than just during designated periods. This can be a particular advantage for some students, particularly those working full time, or balancing many different obligations.
After all, your life doesn’t always operate on the schedule that a traditional school year does. Why should that stand in the way of you getting your degree? With rolling admissions and rolling start dates, universities are looking to accommodate today’s students, meeting them on their terms and on their schedule.
What Is Rolling Admission?
Rolling admissions refers specifically to the application process, not to the program as a whole. Rolling admissions policies generally operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. In this case, applications are considered and admitted to a program as slots open up and as applications roll in.
The alternative, of course, is the traditional model, where candidates may apply during a designated period, and all candidates are considered at once. Both types of admissions processes have their advantages, and a savvy student might choose to apply to both.
Schools with rolling admissions policies, like all schools, aim to admit the best candidates. However, because they process applications as they receive them, timing is also a major part of their acceptance process. This could potentially give you an edge when you decide when to submit your application.
Why Consider Rolling Admissions Programs
Rolling admissions policies may present a number of potential advantages to applicants. The specific advantages may vary, depending on the individual applicant of school, when they apply, and other factors.
Four reasons to consider applying to rolling admissions schools include:
- Applying early can be an advantage.
Even if there’s not an official application deadline, getting in there early could still be a good thing. For one, you’ll be in place when spots open up, to be considered before the rest of the competition has their packet ready. Not to mention you could get your application in before scholarship and grant money runs out, and potentially put yourself in the running for extra aid.
- There usually aren’t application deadlines, so you can apply late if you’re not ready yet.
Applying late isn’t always a bad thing. After all, spots will most likely open up after traditional deadlines have closed. With rolling admissions, you could take the time to polish up your application, and take advantage of those openings when they arise.
- You’ll probably hear back sooner from rolling admissions colleges.
Because colleges with rolling admissions process applications as they receive them, you’re likely to hear back a little sooner than you would otherwise. The specific amount of time will vary by school, but a solid general estimate on your wait time would be four to eight weeks. However, the admissions department at the specific school you’re applying to could give you a more accurate figure.
- Your application might be judged against fewer competitors at once.
In a traditional application process, there’s a designated period in which you can apply. Once that period is over, all the contenders are evaluated together. With rolling admissions, that’s not the case. You’ll be compared only to those people who applied around the same time as you for those open slots. As long as you surpass the basic admissions criteria, this could potentially reduce some of the competition you face.
Types of College Rolling Admissions Programs
If you’re looking at schools with rolling admissions, you’ll probably come across two major types. This might influence your choice of where to apply in a big way. Types of rolling admissions colleges include:
- Rolling Start Date Colleges
These types of schools let accepted students begin their studies at any point throughout the year. So if you applied and were accepted late, you wouldn’t have to wait until the following semester to start class! In other words, these schools aim to be there for you when you’re ready to start working toward your degree.
One important note: How each college organizes rolling start dates may vary. For example, some schools may have a number of designated start-dates throughout the semester for each batch of accepted students. Others may simply have a short waiting period while your registration is processed. If you’re applying to a school with rolling start dates, reach out to them for more information about how this works.
- Designated Start Date Colleges
Just because a school has rolling admissions doesn’t necessarily mean there’s also a rolling start. In some cases, colleges with rolling admissions still operate on a traditional semester or trimester schedule. If that’s the case, after a certain point, you might still have to wait for a new semester to register for classes. If you’re applying to a rolling admissions school that uses designated start-dates, or that doesn’t specify how this works, make sure you get in touch with them and ask questions, so that you better understand what to expect.
Schools with Rolling Admissions & Rolling Start Potential Deadlines
You might have noticed that some schools with rolling admissions… still seem to have deadlines. What’s all that about? These are sometimes called “priority deadlines.”
Priority deadlines could constitute one of two things:
- A recommended date to submit your application so that you can maximize your chances and start class on time. Priority deadlines could also impact things like scholarship and grant opportunities, so make sure you’re aware of these types of deadlines, if they exist at your school.
- Early admissions. This is a somewhat different process than other types of college applications. It usually happens relatively far in advance. Usually, there are different stipulations that go along with this—when you need to reply by, whether an acceptance is binding, etc. Early admissions could exist within both rolling and traditional admissions processes. If you come across this, don’t hesitate to ask the school questions to better understand what it entails at that school.
Rolling Admissions & Rolling Start Challenges & Considerations
If you’re applying to a school with rolling start dates or rolling admissions policies, in addition to the advantages, you might have a few extra concerns to watch out for.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to apply.
- Financial Aid: Need a little help covering your tuition? Many schools offer institutional scholarship opportunities, or grant money, to students who meet the criteria. However, that funding is generally limited. With rolling admissions, you run the risk that the well could dry up before you get to it. If you’re applying to a rolling admissions or rolling start college, make sure to review any necessary deadlines for scholarships, grants, or other limited opportunities you might be interested in.
- Limited Space: Just because there’s rolling admissions and a rolling start doesn’t mean space is unlimited. If you wait too long to send in your application, you run the risk that all the available spots will get filled up. Of course, new space might open up later, and there might be wait list opportunities. Make sure you’re aware of these possibilities, and keep an eye out for any recommended application submission dates.
- Response Deadlines: Once you do apply to a school with rolling admissions, make sure you’re aware of how much time you have before you need to respond. In some cases, due to the school’s quicker turnaround on your application, you might need to respond sooner. This is so that the school knows for sure how many openings they have for future applicants.
Colleges with Rolling Admissions or Rolling Start Dates
Rolling admissions, rolling starts, priority deadlines… Each school’s admissions process is unique. So put some thought into what you need, and make sure you ask lots of questions when determining if a certain online program is a good fit! The sponsored listings below may serve as examples, with varying rolling admissions and start processes, to help you begin your search.
Stevens Henager, which is based in Utah, has been offering students a professionally-oriented education ever since its founding in 1861. With programs ranging from associates through masters, a variety of campus locations in Utah and Idaho as well as online, Stevens-Henager College continues that proud tradition today.
Stevens-Henager is a good example of a school with both rolling admissions and rolling start dates. Specifically, Stevens Henager has new classes starting every month. So, once you’re accepted, while you might have a brief wait to start class, the school aims to make that wait as short as possible.
Benedictine University is a Catholic university based in Chicago. It was founded in 1887. Ever since, they’ve been offering students the opportunity for career-focused education, designed to support student success and fit into their lives. Today, in addition to their campus locations, they also offer a variety of asynchronous online programs, adding an additional element of flexibility without compromising on intellectual rigor.
Benedictine maintains a rolling admissions policy, meaning they don’t have an official application deadline. However, classes might not start on a rolling basis, so if you want to begin study in a certain semester, you may still need to apply and confirm your acceptance before a certain date. Specific online application requirements may vary by program, so contact Benedictine University for more information.
Everest is dedicated to helping motivated students earn the career-oriented degrees they want. That’s why they offer both rolling admission and rolling starts! Everest has classes starting year-round, with a variety of potential openings in all different programs. And they’re not just flexible about when you start. They also offer flexible class scheduling, both to study online, and even for their campus programs.
Everest maintains local campus locations in 10 states, as well as robust online programs. Not every program may be available in every location or online. Options in both cases range from associate through masters degrees in a variety of fields. For more information about the application process, program availability, and more, reach out to Everest.
Kean University has a 150-year history working in higher education. They boast one of the most diverse student populations in the United States. Between their campus and online options, they offer more than 50 undergraduate programs and 85 paths for graduate study. They commit themselves to excellence, striving to provide their students with an education that could support not only their career goals, but also enrich lives and communities.
Kean uses a rolling admissions process in that they process applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, there are still some application deadlines to be able to start classes in a given semester. Specific application requirements, deadlines, and availability may vary by individual program. Reach out to Kean University for more information.
Find & Apply to Rolling Admission and Rolling Start Colleges
If you’re ready to start working toward your degree, a variety of rolling admission and rolling start colleges may offer the online programs you’re looking for. The specific details of each admissions policy and class schedule may vary by school and program, so for more information, reach out to the universities you’re considering with all of your questions.