College Application Deadlines 2021-2022: What You Need to Know
A new college application season is around the corner. Therefore, it’s important that you know when your colleges’ deadlines are so that you can prepare as early as possible. To ease your college application process, we’ve compiled general information on 2021-2022 college application deadlines. We did our best to cover a wide majority of universities. Keep reading to find out 2021-2022 college application deadlines for regular decision, early action, early decision, and more!
When do college applications open for 2021-2022?
The majority of college applications for the 2021-2022 application cycle open on August 1, 2021. This includes both the Common and Coalition Applications. Both applications allow you to apply to a wide variety of public and private institutions.
If you’re looking to get a head start, however, you can complete the general application components at any time before August 1st (or after). Just know that you will not get access to specific college’s application components until the official “opening” date (August 1, 2021).
On the other hand, schools that use proprietary applications (meaning that they have their own specific applications that cannot be found on a platform like the Common or Coalition Application) typically open them August or September. Specific dates vary by school, so we recommend you check beforehand!
In terms of school specific application components, they’re usually quite similar school-to-school, but certain components like essay questions may differ. On the bright side, though, school-specific essays are usually far shorter than the main application essay. Think ~250 words rather than 650, which is significant.
No matter when and where you apply, there are some basic things you’ll need to submit to apply to colleges. These include college essay(s), recommendation letters, official high school transcripts, and standardized test scores (if required).
So, now that we’ve gone over when applications open, when do they close? Let’s see.
Fall 2021 college application deadlines
As you may have heard, there’s different types of college application deadlines. These include early action, early decision, regular decision, and rolling admissions. No matter which one(s) you’re planning on using, we’re going to cover them all. We will supply you the typical deadline dates as well as general information on these types of deadlines.
And, transfer students – don’t think we forgot about you! We’ll also cover transfer deadlines and have a few helpful sources to help you through your college transition.
Early action deadlines
Generally, the majority of early action deadlines occur sometime in November. Students will receive news of their admission decision by mid-December. However, a few early action deadlines are in December as well. If this is the case for a school you’re applying to, you can expect to hear back within a month.
As indicated by the name, early action deadlines allow students to apply to colleges early. Students find out their admission decision before those who apply through regular decision. If you want to hear back from colleges early without the pressure of having to commit to a school quickly, early action is a great option. As you do not have to accept/deny an admission offer until May 1, this gives you plenty of time to compare your options.
On the other hand, if you’re not quite accepted to a school through early action, but not quite rejected, you may have been deferred. Being deferred means that your application has been pushed to the regular decision applicant pool, and will be reviewed once again amongst applicants who applied through regular decision. While being deferred isn’t the best news to receive, it isn’t the worst either – it gives you the opportunity to reach out to the school in the meantime and potentially improve your application (and thus, your admission chances too!).
Early decision deadlines
Like early action, most early decision deadlines also fall in November. Students who apply early decision at this time usually hear back by December. If accepted, a nonrefundable deposit is sent to the school far in advance of May 1st (National College Decision Day). Many schools who offer early decision deadlines also have a second early decision deadline for students who didn’t apply to the first – with these second round deadlines often occurring sometime between early and mid-January (which would be January 2022 for the 2021-2022 application cycle). As per usual, students who apply to these second round deadlines can also expect to hear back within a month.
While early action and early decision are similar in that they require applicants to submit applications earlier than regular decision applicants and send admission decisions out earlier, there are still differences between the two. The biggest difference is that applying to a college through early decision includes a binding agreement, requiring students who are accepted through early decision to commit to that particular school. These students must also withdraw all their other college applications (to other schools). So, if you’re planning on applying to a university through early decision, we urge you to be 100% sure that you would be happy to attend that school.
A further drawback of early decision is that you sign the binding agreement ahead of time. This means you are committing to a school without seeing your financial aid offer. If you are heavily dependent on financial aid to get yourself through college, make sure to be wary of this. If you have a first-choice school in mind that offers early decision, but you are not sure that you will be able to attend depending on the financial aid offer, we recommend applying through early action or regular decision instead (in case things don’t go as planned). Although some schools may adjust your financial aid or allow you to withdraw, this is not guaranteed and may reflect badly on you.
If you want more information on how early action and early decision deadlines work, or are still unsure of the differences between the two, we recommend checking out these sources:
- Everything you need to know about Early Decision and Early Action
- Early Decision & Early Action (CollegeBoard)
Regular decision deadlines
Regular decision deadlines fall later than their early action and early decision counterparts (as indicated by their names), with most falling in early January. However, some also take place in mid-January or even February, and students will typically receive their admission decisions in March and April. If accepted to a school after applying regular decision, applicants will have until the end of April (before National College Decision Day) to accept or turn down the admission offer.
Regular decision offers the widest application window, allowing students more time to gather materials, write essays, and take and submit their standardized tests (if required). There are downsides to applying through regular decision. If deferred or rejected, you must wait until the next semester or academic year to reapply.
Now, let’s roll into rolling admissions! Unlike the types of deadlines mentioned so far, colleges that offer rolling admissions do not have set deadlines. Instead, these universities review applications as they come in. They typically have several “windows” each year in which students can submit applications. Applications are accepted until all spots in the upcoming class are filled up.
While these application windows vary by school, many will open them up around the start of September in the fall. How long this window will remain open depends on how many spots are still available at a school. While they can remain open all the way into spring, some colleges will close them on May 1st.
Transfer application deadlines
Last, but certainly not least, let’s go over transfer deadlines! For those planning on transferring to a new school in Fall 2022 (meaning that this would be your first semester), many transfer application deadlines fall between February and March, but some schools deadlines’ can even go farther into April or May. If this seems strange, just keep in mind that it’s quite common for transfer deadlines to fall later than or after schools’ deadlines for first-year students.
Also, as a general rule, it is a good idea to start your transfer application process at the beginning of your last full semester at your current university (the one you’re transferring from). So, if you’re planning to transfer to a school in the Fall of 2022, you should start your transfer application process at the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester.
If you’re currently going through the transfer process and are looking for guidance or more information, we recommend checking out these sources:
- How to transfer colleges: A step-by-step guide
- How to transfer from a community college
- Top Scholarships for Transfer Students in July 2021
- How to write a college transfer essay
When should you apply to college in the fall?
Yay! We’ve finished going over all the types of deadlines for your college application. Ultimately, however, there’s more to applying to colleges than just your application. So, when should you do everything else?
Great question. Applying to college is a long and complicated process, so it’s best to start early. While it’s fine to start some parts of the process during your senior year, it’s a good idea to take your standardized tests (if required) during your junior year of high school (especially if you’re planning on applying early action/decision). Other components, like your essays, should be started the summer before your senior year, so you have enough time to really think through how you should answer the prompts. As for recommendation letters, you should make sure to ask for these at least a month before they’re due, to give your recommenders enough time to finish and answer any questions they may have.
If you finish everything early and are ready to apply early in your senior year, early action or decision might be a good option. It allows you to receive your decisions by December and feel relatively more “relaxed” for the rest of the school year.
What do I do if I miss the college application deadline?
If you are unable to submit your college application (or any component) by the deadline, there are a few things you can do. First, however, we recommend that you contact the school’s (that you missed the deadline for) admissions office directly. This allows you to explain the situation to them and ask if there is any way that you can still submit your application. When you get in contact, though, make sure you have an actual reason for missing the deadline – they may be less sympathetic if you simply forgot about the deadline. You might also consider writing a letter to the admissions office. In the letter, detail why you missed the deadline and elaborate on why you are a good fit for that college. Hopefully, they will still let you submit your application. If not, you still have options, don’t worry!
A few more options for missed deadlines
If the missed deadline is your top-choice and you are determined to attend, there’s a few options. First, you can wait a semester (or academic year) for the chance to re-apply. In the case you choose to do this, make sure to gather all your materials early so that you can apply on time.
Alternatively, you can accept the offer to another school you were accepted to, attend it for a year, and then transfer to your top-choice school. On that note, you can also attend a local community college, before transferring to your top-choice school. This will allow you to save money and get some credits out of the way before attending their dream school.
Ultimately, even if you missed the deadline for a particular school, just remember that it’s not the end of the world! Also, no matter what schools you’re applying to and what deadline (e.g. early action/decision, regular decision, etc.) you’re planning on applying for, we highly recommend you check out the specific deadlines for your schools to make sure that you don’t miss any.
Good luck meeting those college application deadlines!
Frequently asked questions about college application deadlines
Does early application increase chances of admission?
Generally, yes! Colleges’ acceptance rates tend to be higher for early action than for regular decision. The rate is usually highest for those who apply early decision. However, it is important to keep in mind that each school is unique. The differences in acceptance percentages (between regular and early action/decision) ultimately differ by school. For some schools, there may even be no differences in acceptance rates at all. So, there is no disadvantage to applying through early action. However, we recommend applying early decision only if you are 100% certain you want to attend a school (as it is a binding agreement if accepted!).
Do colleges accept late recommendations?
Yes, they do. However, we would suggest asking your recommenders and providing them with the necessary information about yourself early enough (around a month in advance) so that they can submit your recommendation letters before the deadline. Although, if they do not get in before the deadline, colleges will not fault you for this – they know it was out of your control. Just make sure to submit your portion of the application by the deadline. If the college wants to know why a recommendation letter is late, they will likely contact your recommender directly.