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Missed the College Deadline? Here’s What You Can Do

There are a number of reasons you might find yourself asking, “What happens if you submit a college application after the deadline?” Maybe you only found out about the college after the application passed, or a technical error led you to believe you had submitted it and turns out your application didn’t go through. 

No matter the cause, chances are you are anxious to find out whether the school might still consider your application. We have some relatively good news for you – although there are no guarantees, there is still a good chance you can apply for admission! Read on to find out what might affect your chances, and how best to move forward with your application.

Also see: College application deadlines this year

Where you stand

Before we get into next steps, let’s go over the situation you’re in now. Depending on how late you are, there is a good chance that the school will still accept your application. Each college wants to get as many applications as possible because it gives them a greater number of students to choose between for admission. 

So, they have an incentive to continue accepting applications, at least for a short period after the deadline. Keep in mind that many colleges do not even begin to review applications until after the deadline has passed. When this is the case, it creates no great inconvenience to submit something late since the college will still be in the process of reviewing applications. 

There are no fixed rules

Of course, none of this is a guarantee – any college has the right to refuse your application after the deadline. Especially at the most selective schools, there is a good chance they will do this since they receive a huge number of applications.

But being late with your application is not reason enough to throw in the towel. In the past, many students have gained admission to schools after submitting their application late, so it’s worth a shot.

Related: An insider’s view on what happens inside an admissions office

Next steps

So, now that you know where you stand, it’s time to develop a game plan. Here is an outline of what you should consider when making your next moves.

Reach out to an admissions officer ASAP

Your very first step should be to reach out to someone at the admissions office. If you already have a relationship with anyone at the office, try reaching out to them because they’ll probably be more likely to help. Also, if the school has a scout for students in your area, try reaching out to them since they have an incentive to bring students to the school.

Explain the situation to them and emphasize how excited you are about attending the school. Make sure to be honest about whatever caused you to submit late; honesty is always appreciated in situations such as these. Ask if they would agree to review your application despite its lateness – this should get you a quick answer to your question.

Offer to submit everything you have prepared

If your application is already ready-to-go, you can ignore this step. But if you still have to complete some parts of your application, you can always offer to submit everything you have at the moment and turn in the other pieces as they come in. This shows your devotion to the school and emphasizes that you really do intend on applying.

If the deadline has not yet passed, but you know that you won’t be finished in time. Try reaching out to the admissions office and offer to submit everything you have. This way, you can reach an agreement before the deadline passes, which shows a better sense of time management and responsibility than reaching an agreement afterwards.

Researching schools with late deadlines

If you are realizing that you did not apply to enough schools, or you are feeling unsure that you’ll gain admission to your first choice, it’s not too late to keep applying. Check out our list of colleges with late application deadlines to start. Many of these schools continue to accept applications through the summer, so you’re sure to find some additional options.

Find out when the next admissions cycle opens

Though it may be a tough pill to swallow, you should be prepared for the admissions officer to tell you that they are no longer accepting applications. On the bright side – this does not mean you’ll never be able to attend that school! If it turns out that you cannot enroll this semester, you can research when the next enrollment cycle opens.

You have the option to attend another school and then transfer should you gain admission. You could also choose to take a gap year while you wait for enrollment to open again. Either way, your dream lives on – do not despair!

Related: How to transfer colleges: A step-by-step guide

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to what happens if you submit a college application after the deadline
  • Some schools do accept late applications, but others do not
  • Be sure to reach out to the admissions office as soon as possible to find out if they accept late applications
  • Offer to submit all the materials that you already have in order to prove that you are interested in the school
  • If you feel like you didn’t apply to enough schools, it’s never too late to research some colleges with late application deadlines Key Takeaways

Additional resources

Don’t feel discouraged if you miss the deadline for your college of choice because there are still options! If you are not firmly set on attending that particular school, you could apply to a different university with a later deadline or rolling admissions. Many students choose to start at community college and then eventually transfer to earn their four-year degrees. You could also use this opportunity to take a productive gap year as well, which might even give you a chance to work a job with tuition reimbursement

Frequently asked questions about missed college deadlines

Can I still apply even if I missed the deadline?

Colleges tend to have different deadlines for applications, but they may still accept your application. If you know in advance that you won’t finish in time, reach out to an admissions officer to see what can be done. It’s still worth it to apply because your application just might be accepted.

How will I know if the school accepts my application?

If your application is submitted, you will usually get a notification upon its arrival. You can reach out to the admissions office to ask if they’re still accepting applications, and they should be able to answer any questions you have. Then, all you have to do is wait for that college’s notification date to see if you got in!