How Long Does It Take To Get Accepted Into College?

By Amanda HoyleJanuary 7, 2022
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Amanda Hoyle
Amanda is a proficient and widely published educational leader, with Master's degrees in both Education and Psychology.
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The anxiety of waiting is so much torture. At many stages of our lives, we have so much anxiety to endure- waiting for college acceptance, is one of them. After putting so much work into your application, you can only wish for the best. But the saying “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”, even though true, makes the anxiety more grueling. 

You have put in all efforts to fill in your application, written your essay, revised it and the process of editing almost never ends. Especially if going to college means a lot to you, you must have put in all your energy into getting an outstanding application. And you can only hope it all turns out alright.

So what happens when you send in your application?

Receiving Your Application

In normal settings, you get an application confirmation email once your college receives your application. If you don’t get any and want to make sure it was received, there is no harm in contacting the admission’s office to confirm. You can check your application status with your application login details on your college website.

What To Do While Waiting

You can make necessary changes to your application if there is a need. If your home location changes or you currently have improved grades or gained an award. If there is any new thing at all that you believe can increase your chances of acceptance, you can add it to your application. Instead of frantically waiting and checking your status multiple times, here are a few things to do while waiting:

  • Maintain your High grade: Because college institutions ask for your final transcript, so the grades at the end of your semester matter. They do have every right to revoke your admission if you have poor grades at the end of your Senior year. They want to see that you can manage your grades or even improve on them not get worse.
  • Enjoy your Senior year: You can just chill out and enjoy the moment. Don’t live in fear of what is to come. Go out and hang out with your friends. 
  • Show some appreciation: Thank those who have helped you with the admission process; like your teachers, counselors or just about anybody who contributed in some way to help you complete your application. You can also give a small gift. It is a kind gesture that counts.
  • Family Time: When you get your acceptance letter, you’ll have to leave your family for a while and be alone in college. In the meantime, it is a good idea to enjoy family time. Make memories that you can hold on to when you miss them in college.
  • Don’t screw up your chances: You don’t want to get in the wrong crowd that can put you into trouble so you don’t screw up any chances at admission or financial aid.
  • Research on the different colleges you applied for: As you wait for admission acceptance, you can do wide research on all the college Institutes you applied to. This helps you consider the best option for you to choose from when the admission decisions come out.

Overall stay busy and productive and find ways to unwind and destress. Both are super important during this waiting game.

How Admission Decisions Are Made

There are qualifications and there are qualities looked out for to make admission decisions. The qualifications are no-brainers. They include your course work, GPA, standardized test scores. Qualities looked out for our commitment, discipline, curiosity etc. Every institution is typically clear on what exactly they are asking for. Depending on the college Institution, a team of at least two admission officers review your application. All applications get read- so be sure that yours will get read along with all your essays. 

Your GPA and test scores are important, and then your extracurricular activity complements that could be a tie-breaker between you and other qualified applicants.

Because it is a team making the decision, decisions are made based on votes. The entire processing of selecting who stays and who goes can be agonizing for the admission officers as well. Applicants are placed on the waitlist if they get probably half of the admissions team to vote in favour of their acceptance. Applicants who get more than that get acceptance immediately.

There are scenarios where students are given some favoritism. For instance, if they are poor but doing exceptionally academically. The admissions officers typically suggest a scholarship alongside the acceptance letter.

Gender and Race affect admission decisions. Because most Universities are working towards diversity, these factors definitely affect admission acceptance. A college admission consultant by the name Kristen Moon says “ The majority of Universities are striving for diversity and to maintain roughly a 50/50 balance between men/women. So when there is a significant skew in either gender, being the minority can work in your favour. 

When Do I Get Accepted Into College?

This is different for all colleges but generally can take up to 6 weeks. If the school has open admissions up until the first day of class, you could hear back in a week if you apply near the start of the school year. If the school has open admissions, then you would expect to hear back within two to four weeks of when you submit your application. If you apply with the regular decision, schools generally release their decisions in March to allow students six weeks to declare their intentions by May 1st.

There are various things that are going to determine how long it takes for you to hear back from the college that you’ve applied for.

The amount of time that it takes to hear back could be affected by the following:

  • Rolling Admission
  • Standard Admission
  • Early Decision/ Early Action

For Rolling Admission, the college is open to applications for a long period during the year, As long as 6 months. Schools with rolling applications may start accepting applications before the earliest application deadline which is commonly around August 1st. And they extend this application till all the slots in that class are filled. So, admissions are more on a first-come-first-serve basis. About 611 schools don’t have application closing dates, even though there might be priority dates that differ from school to school. 

Once the application is made, you get the Institution’s decision 4-8 weeks after or it could even be earlier. The advantage of rolling admissions over others is you can get your decision early and know you have a viable college option before you submit other applications. If you apply early on in the application window, there are typically a few applications at that time giving you higher chances of getting accepted. As more seats are taken, it gets tougher. The admission provided is non binging- meaning you don’t have to attend if admitted. Some schools do both rolling and standard admissions, leaving you with options. 

For some college Institutions, they follow standard admissions. This involves regular deadlines, typically between January -February. The admission decisions come back in March or April.

Some colleges offer you the option to apply early. These are for students who have decided what colleges they want to attend and who are ready to submit their application much early on in the cycle. 

Early decision deadlines are usually within October 15- November 15, and decisions come back usually in December. Early decision admission is a binding policy. If you get accepted, you are committed to attending it and not applying to other colleges. 

Early Action has two different policies. You’re allowed to apply to multiple Colleges and it is a non-binding policy

For Community college, it takes about two weeks to get the admission decision.

If within two to three weeks of applying, you haven’t gotten your application confirmation mail yet, you can call or email the admission’s office to check your status. Or simply check your status online.

Typically, your admission status is available online and once you get accepted, it reflects on your profile. And then you get your admission letter much later. 

How Long Should You Wait On The Waiting List?

It is not a comfortable position to be in. As you’re wondering what next steps to take or how to plan your next move. Schools generally make offers to waitlisted students as early as May. But in some cases, it takes a long time and these applicants only get an offer by Late July or August. 

Keep the situation in perspective and It is a good idea to start considering other options early on. Keep on planning and staying up to date on deadlines. Even if you don’t get an offer, don't see it as a failure. There is a world of opportunities out there and it will not elude you.

There is no use in panicking during the waiting game. Anxiety is only normal, but remember to stay productive and breathe through it all.

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Amanda Hoyle
Amanda is a proficient and widely published educational leader, with Master's degrees in both Education and Psychology.
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