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There’s Still Time to Apply to College: Options for Seniors After Jan. 1

The regular admission deadline for many colleges has already passed, but there are a number of colleges in the US that are still accepting applications well after the usual Jan. 1 deadline.

While many colleges have regular and early decision deadlines that extend into mid-January and February, other colleges offer rolling admission programs, where students can submit their application at any point before the school’s final deadline (usually in May or June) and receive an admission decision within a few weeks – sometimes well before the usual April 1 notification date.

These late and rolling admission deadlines can be helpful to some students, especially those who may have gotten a late start on the college prep process or didn’t anticipate an early rejection.

When You Should Apply to Additional Colleges
Adding colleges to your balanced college list after the Jan. 1 deadline isn’t something to take lightly. There’s still a lot to consider – like fit, your academic goals, and how those colleges meet your needs. You also need to consider any financial restrictions, as adding more colleges to your list can get expensive as additional application fees pile up. Don’t apply to additional schools in January just because you can. Think about why you’re adding more colleges to your list and if it actually benefits you.

Here are some circumstances where adding colleges with rolling admission polices or later deadlines is a good idea.

  • You got a late start. We see many of these students every year. They waited until the last minute to consider their college options and didn’t have enough time to get everything together before the early January deadlines. If you got a late start applying to college, adding some more schools to your college list can be beneficial, especially if it helps your list become more balanced. Do your research and make sure all the colleges you are considering are great social, financial, and academic fits. You may not have as much time to research schools as other students did, but do as much as you can and talk to your college counselor about your choices.
  • You didn’t have a balanced college list. We see this a lot, too: Students with college lists heavy on “reaches,” and not enough “target” or “likely” This is not a balanced college list, and can set students up for a lot of disappointment when decisions come out later in the spring. If you spent a lot of time this fall just applying to “dream” colleges and not considering fit, take a look at your college list with your counselor and decide if adding a few more “target” and “likely” colleges that are still accepting applications is a good idea. This is the best way to ensure you have some schools to choose from come April.
  • You’ve already received multiple rejections. Maybe your college list wasn’t as balanced as you originally thought, and after applying to some early and rolling admissions programs you’ve been handed only rejections. To make sure you have some college options come April, meet with your college counselor and reevaluate your profile, where you’ve already applied, and where you should apply next.
  • You’re second-guessing your college list. Maybe you’ve had a change of heart about one of your top-choice colleges. Maybe you were pressured to apply to some schools you really don’t like. Now is the time to speak up and research some other college options. Again, meet with your college counselor. He or she can recommend some new schools to consider that are still accepting applications and are a good fit for your needs and goals.
  • You’ve had a major life event. A death in the family, an illness, an accident, or just a change in finances can have a big impact on your plans for the next couple of years. If a life event has changed what colleges are a good financial fit or convenient geographically, consider researching schools that better fit your new situation.

Other Options
If you’re feeling unsure about your college admissions journey thus far, applying to other good-fit colleges isn’t your only option. Every student is different, and every student has their own path toward their college goals. If you’re not sure about your college options, consider some of these alternative solutions.

  • Defer admission to the spring term. If you were already accepted to a college but need some time to reevaluate your goals or direction, consider asking if you could defer admission to the spring term. You can also apply to rolling admission programs for the 2018 spring term.
  • Take a gap year. Gap years are growing in popularity, and it’s no surprise why. Students who take gap years tend to arrive on campus more prepared for college. They’ve matured, have a better sense of their goals, and are ready for the challenges of a college curriculum – something they might not have been prepared for a year before.
  • Attend community college. You can do this as part of a gap year, or just to get some general education credits out of the way while you figure out your next steps into a four-year program. Continuing to learn while you evaluate your college options will keep your mind sharp and help you better flesh out your academic goals – something you’ll need to know when you eventually apply to a four-year university.

While the college application process is largely over for most applicants, there are still some options for students who need extra time to apply. If you need some additional help deciding where to apply or what other college options are available to you, contact us today for more information on our college counseling services for high school seniors.