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How Long Do College Admissions Decisions Take?

If you are a current high school senior, you likely have college on your mind. If you are in the application process, you may wonder, how long do college admissions decisions take?

This article will detail the answer to this question and provide more information on the college decision-making process. 

How Long Do College Admissions Decisions Take?

The time it takes to receive the final decision from schools depends on various factors.  

While there are some general timing guidelines, it ultimately depends on two main things: the specific school you applied to and how you submitted your application.

There is no one predetermined date by which acceptance letters must be mailed out. Since we cannot cover every school and its timeline here, let’s look into the various types of applications.

The most common application types include early decision, early action, single choice early action, regular decision, and rolling admission.

Early Decision

Early decision applications are binding. This means that accepted students are required to enroll. 

Due to the binding nature of this application, students can only apply to one institution with early decision.

This application deadline is in November, and decisions are made relatively quickly- between December to early January. 

If you want to apply early, this institution should be your top choice, and be ready to enroll upon your acceptance.

Early Action

Early action is comparable to the early decision in terms of the deadline (due in November) and decision timeline (decisions are made in December), but it is non-binding.

December 1st is a frequent Early Action deadline. However, it varies school-to-school. That said, colleges with earlier deadlines typically send out admissions decisions between December and January.

It is acceptable to apply to many schools via early action, and acceptance does not obligate you to enroll.

Single Choice Early Action

This option is similar to an early decision. 

Students can only submit an application to one institution, but it is not binding. 

Those who choose to apply to a school via single-choice early action are expressing a strong interest in attending. The acceptance process and deadline are identical to the other early alternatives.

When it comes to applying early, regardless of the sort of early application you pick, applications are typically due in November, and decisions are made in December (or January).

Regular Decision

Regular decision applications are the most common option for submitting an application. 

The deadline for these applications is often in January or February, and decision letters are sent out by April.

Rolling Admission 

Some universities have rolling admissions. This means that they consider applications as they are received rather than after a deadline. In these cases, you will likely receive an admissions decision rapidly. 

For instance, if you submitted your application in September or early October, you may hear back by the end of October or potentially earlier.

Now that we’ve covered the most common types of applications and their dates, how will you hear back?

Notification of Admission

Some colleges still use snail mail letters to accept, waitlist, or deny applicants. However, many institutions increasingly use email and website portals to notify candidates of the decisions.

A portal is a private website where students can submit and check their application documents’ status. 

Once an admission decision has been made, it is displayed on the student’s private page under the student’s status.

Universities that utilize portals transmit formal admissions letters and documentation at a later date.

What are Notices?

The majority of universities send out electronic notices. You should receive a confirmation email of the receipt of your online application one to three weeks after submission.

Understand that a notice is not an acceptance letter; it is merely an acknowledgment that your application was received. 

You will still need to follow up to check that all application materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, were received.

As you can see, exactly how long college admission decisions take will depend on the admission type and college(s) you apply to.