Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
When Do College Decisions Come Out?
When it comes to college decisions, the waiting game can seem as though it lasts forever. If you’re sitting at the edge of your seat wondering when college decisions come out, we are here to help. Decisions come back at different times based on whether you applied early action, early decision, or regular decision.
That being said, we can give you a general idea of when to expect your decisions letters to start rolling in. Let’s get into it:
Related: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
How application type affects your decision date
First things first: The biggest determinant of when you’ll get your college decisions back is the time when you applied. Those who apply early will typically get their decisions back before the regular decision deadline. Here are the general date ranges that you can expect to hear back, depending on when you applied to college:
|Application type||When you’ll hear back|
|Early Action / Early Decision I (Due in November)||Mid to late December|
|Early Decision II (Due in January)||Sometime in February|
|Regular Decision (Typically due in late December, January, or February)||Sometime in March, and as late as early April|
Remember, these are not hard-and-fast rules, so make sure to check with your specific college to ensure when you’ll hear back. However, these dates will ring true for the majority of schools.
When will I hear back if I am waitlisted?
The vast majority of students are either accepted or rejected from a college straight out. However, some students end up waitlisted. This means that they have not gained admission, but they still have a chance of admission.
While this is good news for the student’s college hopes, it also means that they will be waiting for a while yet to find out whether they have gained admission. Waitlists may admit students as late as the August before they begin school, meaning that their college plans may change at the drop of a pin.
Some students may prefer to lock down their admissions decisions before August. If this is the case, they can request to be removed from the waitlist. While there is no express advantage to the student by doing this, it can help the school know who to contact should they admit students off the list.
If you are waitlisted at your ideal school, make sure to do everything you can to improve your chances, including writing a letter of continued interest.
Related: All you should know about college waitlists
Do accepted applicants hear back before rejected students?
Waiting to hear back from colleges is tough; ultimately, students are entirely in the dark until decisions come out. Still, that doesn’t stop students from coming up with theories to try to deduce how they will fare. As decisions begin to roll out, the excitement takes over and oftentimes, applicants begin to form theories to predict their outcomes.
One of the most common of these theories is that colleges contact accepted applicants before the ones they reject, or vice versa. So, after one student hears back from a school, if another student hasn’t heard back yet, they assume that they will receive the opposite outcome.
This may indeed be true in many cases, but it is not a hard-and-fast rule. As admissions decisions begin to come out, it’s good to remind yourself that the only way to know whether you got in is to wait for your own decision! There are countless reasons why some decisions may come out earlier than others, and every school operates differently.
What to do as you wait for your admissions decisions
After you’ve put in all the work to assemble your college applications, take your tests, and write your essays, it can be hard to know what to do once it’s all submitted and you’re stuck waiting. But this time can be incredibly valuable if you use it right. Here are a few pointers for the time between applications and admissions.
Keep your grades up
It can be difficult to avoid the temptation of “Senioritis.” Now that you’ve put in so much work towards applications, you might want to have some fun and relax your efforts in school. But remember, colleges do look at your senior year grades and if you slack off too much, you could jeopardize your college admissions.
So, take some time for yourself and enjoy your senior year with your friends, but ensure that you stay on top of your schoolwork in order to avoid hurting your college chances!
Related: High school checklist: Freshman through senior year
Look for summer internships
It may be daunting to think about writing more applications right now, but since you’re already in the mindset, why not take advantage of it! This is a good time to apply for summer internships which can potentially earn you some money over the summer, and can help you land a job further down the line.
It’s good to get work experience as early as possible in order to open future opportunities for yourself, as well as to begin learning what types of jobs you enjoy and prosper in.
Related: Top 15 internships for high school students
Apply to scholarships
You’ll thank yourself later if you get to work on scholarships as you wait for admissions decisions! This can help you keep your options open when you get your admissions decisions back.
As you receive your financial aid award letters, you might find that you’ve gained admission to your dream school, but they offered less financial aid than other schools. If you’ve already got some scholarships under your belt, you’ll be able to make a decision that is less constrained by finances. So, don’t let yourself slack on scholarships!
Plan a college tour
College tours are one of the best ways to go about choosing a college once you’ve heard back about admissions. Some schools will pay to host admitted students on their campuses. But students can also organize tours to help them get an idea of where they’d like to go.
You might not want to fly across the country for a school that hasn’t admitted you yet – this makes perfect sense. However, we recommend visiting a couple of local campuses, even if you are not interested in them, to get an idea of different types of campuses. You can get an idea if you prefer public or private schools, liberal arts schools, and large or small colleges.
Related: Top questions to ask on a college visit
Summing it up
- Early Action I and Early Decision decisions typically come out in mid to late December
- Early Action II decisions typically come out in February
- Regular Decision decisions typically come out in March and April
- There’s no way to know your admissions outcome until you actually receive your letter
- Waitlisted students may not hear back until as late as August
- Take advantage of the time between applications and decisions to set yourself on track for college!