College Admissions Terminology
Rolling Admission - Applications are processed as they are received and students are notified of admission status within 2-3 weeks. While deadlines for most of these schools may extend well in to the spring or the summer it is important to make sure that a student has at least applied by the school’s financial aid deadline. Schools in this category in Texas will use the ApplyTexas application described later in this handbook with schools outside of Texas usually having their own application. Most of these applications including the ApplyTexas application are available starting August 1st.
Regular Decision - Applications are due by a set deadline. These deadlines typically run from November 1st through January 1st with some as late as March 1st. Decisions from these colleges are sent to applicants by a set date, usually April 1st. Students must respond back to each college to which they were accepted by May 1st with their decision. Most schools in this category will use the Common Application described later in this handbook. The Common Application is not available until August 1st. Do not fill it out earlier or you will be completing the previous year’s version.
Early Decision - This is a binding contract. Only one such application may be pending. If accepted, a student must attend that school. Because of the obligation to attend if accepted, this option is not a very common one for most students, as a student is obligating himself prior to knowing about financial aid and potential scholarships.
Early Action - This process is not binding and is a very common approach to applying to schools. Many Regular Decision schools will have this as an option. It is the same process with the same results it is just that student finds out a decision by winter break instead of waiting until April 1st. The deadline for Early Action applications is typically November 1st. Students may apply to one or several schools using Early Action.
Restricted Early Action - This is the same as Early Action except that the student may apply to only one Early Action school (similar to Early Decision except that this process is not binding). Very few schools use this. At the time of this printing, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Harvard and Boston College are the only schools using this method.