When should I start applying for college?

So many deadlines, so little time.

We at the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) understand that there are many important dates to remember when applying to college, especially because every college has its own set of deadlines. Many colleges also have multiple application options to choose from, each with its own due date. Therefore, it is important that you know the unique information for each college to which you plan to apply.

According to College Board, there are two different application processes to be aware of: early admission and regular decision. If you are certain of your top choice(s), early admission may be the right choice for you. It may give you a better chance to get accepted; however, you will not be able to compare admission or financial aid offers from multiple schools. If you want more time to select the right college, compare admission or financial aid packages, or give yourself another semester of grades to use towards your application, then regular decision is the way to go.


Here are the options and the requirements for each process:



  • Deadlines range from October to November of senior year.
  • Three types:
    • Early Decision
      • You can apply to only one school; this option is binding, meaning if you are accepted and offered enough financial aid, you must attend.
      • Some schools offer Early Decision I and Early Decision II.
    • Early Action
      • You can apply to more than one school; this option is not binding.
    • Single-Choice Early Action
      • You can apply early to only one school, however you are allowed to apply regular decision to other colleges.
      • You do not have to decide to attend until spring.



  • Deadlines range from January to February of senior year.
  • There is nothing binding about a regular decision application.
  • You gain more time to find the right college for you and compare financial aid packages.
  • You add another semester of grades to your application, which may help especially if it helps highlight improvement over the course of your academic career.


Every college has different deadlines and options, so be sure to check the websites of each of your top choices to gather all the information you need. NCLC is here to support and assist you throughout the application process. Contact us at nclc.info@newark.rutgers.edu if you have any questions. Good luck this fall and beyond!