November 2011 E-NEWSLETTER

posted Nov 11, 2011, 11:16 PM by Glenda Durano


Entering the world of college admissions is a little like going to a foreign country.  Everything is new to most of us…and in many ways, scary. We wander around baffled and confused, allowing the stress to take over our lives.  One of the first places a person realizes this foreign world is in the terminology that used in college admissions, especially with regard to the ever-looming deadline.  With that in mind, let’s have “language 101” for college admissions.

Regular admission deadline-Regular admission means that this is the last preferred date that a student can submit an application.  The hard deadline applies only to those pieces of the application that you have to submit.  Admissions officers know that letters of recommendation and transcripts will trickle in, however, they also realize that you are the one who has to request those items, therefore, you want to ask in advance of the deadline.  Schools allow a reasonable grace period for all supporting documents, but you need to follow up in order to make sure that those documents are submitted as soon as possible.  If you miss the regular admission deadline, can you apply anyway?  Absolutely.  However, you may not know until later whether or not you are admitted.  Every year, just after May 1st (the National Reply Date for college candidates), the National Association of College Admissions Counselors publishes a list of schools that still have openings, therefore, it is possible for you to apply quite late and , if you meet the school’s criteria, you may get accepted.  It is quite doubtful, however, that you will receive any financial aid.

Rolling admissions-This is a fascinating concept.  It basically means “non-competitive—judging your application based on its own merits, not as compared to other students.”  A university with rolling admissions accepts students as they apply, usually within 4 to 6 weeks.  In other words, you avoid the long, harrowing wait to know whether or not you’ve been admitted. If a university does not have rolling admissions, it means that, ultimately, the university “ranks” applications based on the total applicant pool. You are compared to the other applicants and if your application is not as strong, it is possible that you may not be admitted.  On the other hand, just because a school has rolling admissions doesn’t mean it isn’t competitive.  Every school sets its own standards.  In rolling admissions you are evaluated primarily on your own merits and whether or not you meet the school’s standards.   In schools without rolling admissions, you will be judged in terms of how well you meet the entry criteria as compared to other applicants.

Acceptance rate-Every school (we hope) has a limit on the number of students it accepts.  If it didn’t, it would be difficult to get classes, and it would be almost impossible to graduate in four years.  (Hmmm, this sounds like a lot of our schools, doesn’t it?)  A school always offers admission to many more students than they know will actually matriculate (come to the school).  They do this because they know that not every student who gets accepted to a particular institution will actually choose to come to that school, and since universities are ultimately a business, this is their way of covering their bases.  If more students matriculate  than they expect, double rooms are turned into triples and classes become impacted (difficult to enter). 

Early decision-If a student applies “ED” (early decision), it means that, if admitted, the student will attend the school.  Consequently, a student can only apply to one school through early decision. Notification or denial of admission is usually received before December 1st and, if accepted, the student agrees to withdraw all other applications.  The early decision deadline for a school is usually much earlier than the regular decision deadline.  The acceptance rate for early decision is much higher at schools because students are required to attend that university.  This acceptance, by the way, is made regardless of financial aid.  Occasionally, students can back out of ED due to financial hardship, but, believe it or not, word gets around about this student, and consequently, he may not be accepted to another school.  Backing out of early decision is considered taboo.

Early admission-Early admission is the best of both worlds.  In this process, if you submit your application by a particular date, you will be notified of admission by an earlier date (usually February 1st).  It is important to realize that applying by the early admission deadline (also called the priority deadline) does not guarantee admission, however, it can increase a student’s chances for merit-based aid (if a school offers it). Applying early admission communicates to a school that you are very interested in that institution.  As a result, many colleges may consider your application more favorably. 

These terms are only the tip of the iceberg.  When you speak to an admissions officer or read information on a college website, make sure you understand both the words and the connotation.  If you don’t know what something means, ask.  Remember, you’re dealing with the world of education.  Educate yourself.