Can You Apply to College Late?

College applications have deadlines that run from October 1 to February 15. And, it is not wise to apply late. But sometimes, there are circumstances that demand a late application. Luckily there are some colleges that have a rolling admission policy. Although rolling admission does not extend application dates indefinitely and competition gets more intense as these schools fill up their slots, rolling admission offers an opportunity for some students to still apply.

So when might you apply late and what happens when you do apply late? Here are some scenarios.

You think you will not be accepted to college you have applied to. Maybe you’ve applied only to reach schools, or you have not gotten acceptances to Early Decision/Action applications. Applying in February may be wise, especially if you apply to safety schools, schools that are mostly sure to accept you. It’s better to have another option.
If you apply late, be sure not to say you are applying because you couldn’t get in elsewhere. Rather update you resume. Now you have first semester grades and may even be taking different classes or involved in different activities. Also update your personal essay. In the essay a good tactic is to explain you are applying to this school late because it offers programs in areas of new interest to you.

Your Goals Change. What if you are interested in doing something else than you originally intended or you see a change for your future? Maybe you have experienced something new or taken a course you have fallen in love with. Maybe you’ve suddenly excelled in your school work and got back great admission testing scores and you now believe you can aim higher.
Apply! Show your later scores, rewrite your personal essay to explain the new shift in your focus or your new confidence, and gather new recommendations that reflect this change.

Your Financial Status is Different. Maybe you received scholarship awards beyond expectation or your parents got a better job. Maybe your parents lost a job or there has been a financial calamity in your family. Either way you may want to apply to a more expensive or less expensive college now. Use rolling admission to apply.
Write a supplemental essay that explains your change in financial circumstances that require you to apply to others schools. Also be sure to update your FAFSA application.

It’s never too late to amend plans as important as your education and your future. Now is the time to apply, even if not optimal. It is better than having to wait to re-apply next fall.

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