College Deadlines Explained


Elisha Novoa

Submitting your application by the deadline is the single most important part of the admissions process. Taking the time to put together an outstanding application, complete with a brilliant personal essay and impressive recommendation letters is pointless if you do not send in your application on time. Very few colleges, if any,  will even bother to look at any applications that come in after the deadlines.


There are three different types of deadlines when applying through the common app and it is important to understand what each one means and if it applies to you. Additionally,  there are  strict deadlines for CSU and UC. 

Regular Decision:

Regular Decision Deadlines is the most common type of deadline that applies to most applications. Regular decision college application deadlines are January 1-15 depending on the school. Colleges send the acceptance letters sometime in March. You have until the end of April to accept. May 1st is known as College Decision Day – you must have decided on your college by that day. 


When applying through regular decisions there is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to. If more than one college accepts you, you can choose where you want to go. . You are under no obligation to enroll in any one particular college.

The regular decision gives you plenty of time to complete your application and because the regular decision is the same for many schools you can apply to as many schools as you’d like. Also gives you time to retake the SAT or ACT if you didn’t score the best. 


Early Decision

Early decision deadlines allow students to apply early. The school reviews these applications early and students also receive a quick response from the college. This is a great option for applicants who have their heart set on one particular school.

However, if a school is not first on your list or if you have any hesitation whatsoever, it is not advisable to apply as an early decision. When you apply through an early decision deadline and a school accepts you, you cannot break your contract. The school contractually obligates you to attend. If you decide to back out because you’ve changed your mind, most schools will charge you a steep fine, which could be as much as a full year’s tuition. The deadlines for early decision are between the 1st and 15th of November.

The early decision shows the school you’re set on attending there and it’s your first choice, this shows that you are committed. You also get a faster response. So if you’re declined, you have plenty of time to apply to other colleges.


Early Action

Early action deadlines also allow you to send in your college application early but unlike early decision deadlines, it is not binding. You may apply to multiple colleges under the early application. Thus, expect an early response from all colleges that you apply to.

There are a couple of differences between early decision and early action. Firstly, with early action, you are not obliged to attend any one particular college. You can apply to multiple colleges and choose anyone from among those thatr5e347 have accepted you. Secondly, you do not have to pay any deposit while sending in your application. You only pay the deposit at the same time as the regular decision applicants.

Early action deadlines are usually set at the same time as early decision deadlines, which is generally between the 1st and 15th of November.

CSU and UC:

If you want to stay in California you are advised to apply to California State Universities and Universities of California. Applying to schools in California have a different deadline than applying through the common app. California State Universities’ application process  opened October 1 and the deadline is November 30. For the University of California, the applications open on November 1, and the deadline to apply is November 30. If you are planning on attending a school in California make sure you track the dates.


When you are applying to college you must get them in on time. The regular decision deadline is January 1-15 depending on the school, the Early Decision and Early Action deadline are November 1-15 also depending on the school. Both CSU and UC deadlines are November 30. If you are struggling to complete your college apps don’t hesitate to ask for help. Ask your teacher, counselor, and mentor. Ms.Stribling is also willing to help you. Contact her [email protected]