The Application

Most colleges ask that you apply in one or more of the following ways:

  • Early Decision means accepted students MUST enroll at that college if they are admitted. Only apply early decision to one school! If you are certain that you want to go to a specific school, applying early decision shows your commitment to that school and can sometimes give you a leg up on other regular admission students. Usually Early Decision applications are due at the beginning of November, and students hear back by the end of December.
  • For Early Action, students must submit their application early, around November, and will hear back around January. Some universities will have another Early Action deadline after the first one, so make sure to look out for all application deadlines. To learn more about the difference between Early Decision and Early Action, check out College Board.
  • Regular Admissions deadlines will vary by university, but will usually fall between November and March.
  • Rolling Admissions means that there are no strict deadlines, but there might be suggested deadlines because spots are offered on a first-come-first-served basis, so the sooner you apply, the better your chances will be.
  • Open Admissions means the institution will accept all students with a high school diploma or equivalent (GED certification). Community Colleges often have an Open Admissions policy.

Starting to apply to colleges can feel overwhelming. Check out these helpful resources:

While every university will have their own separate application, many universities have joined the online application website: Common Application.  Common Application (Common App) allows students to submit the same application and essay to several schools at once. Using the Common App will cut down on the time and stress of filling out college applications.  Be sure to check which universities on your list use the Common App. Check out Common Application Help for more assistance. For students looking at HBCUs, there is a common application for HBCUs as well.

All schools will require an official transcript.  Be sure to contact your counselor about sending transcripts to all of the universities on your list.

Most college applications have an application fee.  If you cannot afford the application fees, be sure to contact your counselor. Waivers are awarded on the basis of family financial hardship. Some colleges will waive your application fee if you contact the admissions office and explain that you cannot afford it. You can also contact the College Board to ask about their fee waivers. For more information on college application fee waiver, see these college application fee waiver FAQS.

In an effort to get-to-know applicants better, colleges are partnering with ZeeMee, a free service that helps students bring their application to life.  Sign up at and create your own portfolio. Then simply copy and paste your link into your college applications. It is easy and fun!

Take a look at The College Board’s College Application Timeline for a helpful month to month checklist.