The Truth Behind Rolling Admissions: No Deadlines, No Waiting

letters for rolling admission

Rolling admissions periods for colleges can allow students to apply to universities and colleges at the last minute, but that doesn’t mean colleges will accept these students down to the wire. In fact, rolling admissions periods can get pretty competitive.

What does Rolling Admissions mean?

"'Rolling' means institutions respond to applications on a rotating basis."Rolling admissions refers to a college or university’s application period. The idea behind rolling admissions is that it offers a large application window for students—sometimes six months or longer—and that colleges respond to applicants as the applications come in instead of waiting until after a particular deadline (although sometimes rolling admissions periods do have deadlines). “Rolling” refers to the idea that institutions accept and respond to applications on a rotating basis. Other admissions methods, like Early Action and Early Decision, wait until a deadline has passed before looking at applications.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Rolling Admissions

You usually hear back a few weeks after submitting your application.If you apply late, you’ll hear back late.
If you want a decision early, this is a good way to go.Since applications are processed as they come in, available spots can fill up quickly.
Rolling admissions offers a larger time period to apply, meaning it’s a good last-minute college option.Rolling admissions schools can still have important deadlines to meet, so you still have to be on top of things.
Applications are judged when they’re received, which may mean less competition if you apply early.It gets harder to get into a rolling admissions school the longer you delay your application.
Unlike Early Decision, early applications are non-binding, so you often have time to weigh your options and apply to other schools.Some schools may require early responses with the early acceptance it offers students.

College Rolling Admissions Styles

Rolling admissions styles are generally fluid, with no deadline. For example, Michigan State University has no deadline.

Sample Deadlines

On the other hand, Penn State, one of the highest ranked rolling admissions schools, accepts applications on a rolling basis but has a priority a deadline of November 30. This means you should try to have your application in early to better your chances of acceptance, but applications will continue to be accepted until all spots are filled.

Sample Deadlines

Rolling Admissions Schools

Here’s a list of colleges with rolling admissions by city, state, Niche Academics grades, and more.

Rolling Admissions Reputation

"The acceptance rates of reputable rolling admissions schools are relatively high."A misconception of rolling admissions is that, because the deadlines are more lenient, the schools will automatically accept students. This isn’t necessarily true, as rolling admissions colleges are looking at applications and accepting applicants as they receive them. With a limited amount of spots available for admission, it can become more difficult to get in the later students apply.

While no Ivy League schools receive applications on a rolling basis, there are several reputable institutions that participate in this admissions method. On the other hand, the acceptance rates of these rolling admissions schools are relatively high.

Niche Overall Grade
Acceptance Rate
Indiana University - BloomingtonA74%
Penn State UniversityA+52%
Rutgers UniversityA-61%
University of Minnesota - Twin CitiesA+50%
University of PittsburghA58%

The Bottom Line

While rolling admissions is a great option if you decide to apply to college at the last minute, it can be difficult in terms of being admitted, especially when there may be a flood of students in the same situation. On the other hand, higher acceptance rates increase students’ chances of being accepted, so it’s not impossible to get in.