College Admissions

Getting Accepted to Schools with Late Application Deadlines: Tips for Spring Applicants

Numerous great schools have deadlines that extend beyond the traditional holiday season application cycle. While you might have previously associated late deadline schools with procrastination among applicants and lesser quality education, this is not the case at all. Schools have strong reasons for making their deadlines later than average, and the selection criteria as well as the quality of education are typically on par with traditional deadline counterparts. Is a late deadline school right for you?

Late Deadline vs. Rolling Admissions

Some schools have rolling admissions, which isn’t quite the same as a late deadline. For applicants, this probably won’t be all that important to you but could affect your strategy for getting into college. If a school has rolling admissions, you can generally submit your application at any time and have it reviewed. If accepted, you typically will be able to enroll in classes at the earliest opportunity. For a student who wants to begin mid-semester or begin taking online classes right away, this can be a great option for getting your degree program started as soon as possible.

Why do schools have late deadlines?

A college might choose to have a later than average deadline for numerous reasons. Applicants tend to mature significantly over the course of their senior year of high school, and a later deadline can attract applicants who have demonstrated academic readiness for college in their senior year through improved GPA and test scores. Other colleges feel that having a typical deadline doesn’t generally attract the type of applicant they are seeking. They don’t want ‘blind’ applicants. Instead, the later deadline gives applicants time not only to fully research their school but also participate in campus visits and information sessions. Finally, state schools and junior colleges might have later deadlines because this allows them to provide the greatest level of service to the community.    

Who chooses a late deadline school?

The reasons that a student would choose a late deadline school are as varied as the reasons that schools choose to have late deadlines. The best reason to choose a late deadline school is because it’s the right match for your personal and academic goals. You might choose this path, as mentioned above, if you have been able to significantly improve your transcript over the course of your senior year. Perhaps you wanted more time to make an informed choice about where to go to college instead of simply applying to the biggest brand-name schools. Also, you might have experienced circumstances beyond your control that prevented you from putting together your application package during the standard application season.

Who shouldn’t choose a late deadline school?

If you’re looking at late deadline schools because you are panicked due to procrastination or not getting accepted during the normal application season, take a deep breath and pause for a moment. Before you apply, the school still needs to fit all of your criteria. If no late deadline school meets your needs, consider alternatives. Could you spend a year at junior college to demonstrate your ability to excel at the collegiate level? What about improving your application by taking a gap year to do volunteer work? Waiting until next year might be what’s best for you and your goals in the long run.    

Assembling your Application Package

Ultimately, applying to a late deadline school is not generally easier than applying to schools with traditional deadlines. If you’ve been procrastinating, you’ll still need to put together a complete application package, including a persuasive essay. If you’re an Early Decision/Early Action applicant who is looking for an alternative, remember that you will need to update your essay so that it speaks to where you are now in your academic and personal progress. The admissions officers will take your application as seriously as you do, so it is not realistic to expect great results from a careless application package – regardless of the school’s deadline. Instead, let the admissions officers see that you are enthusiastic about attending their school and ready for new challenges and experiences.

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