Missed the Application Deadlines? You Can Still Apply to College

Many students are so excited by the thought of attending college that they are on top of all the application deadlines and busy getting ready to apply to their list of top college choices. But, what if your student isn’t as organized and waits until the last minute to get college applications ready, or worse, misses the application deadlines entirely?

“Those deadlines exist to give the student and the families the optimal amount of time to get a decision, obtain a financial aid offer, and choose their best college fit,” explains Kayla Montgomery, assistant director of undergraduate admissions for Azusa Pacific University. “So, if you miss the deadlines, your timeline is shorter and possibly a little more stressful, although you can still get into a college in the fall.”

Preparing for College Application Deadlines

According to the College Board, many schools have an early decision application deadline between November 1 and November 15 the fall before the student will enter college. When students are excited about college and have a set list of schools they definitely want to attend, they are usually ready to submit their applications early—along with transcript forms, test scores, completed essays, teacher or counselor recommendations, and any other necessary documentation.

These students may even be on top of any financial aid forms that parents need to fill out, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This necessary financial aid form becomes available as early as October 1 of the prior year with a priority deadline of March 1, and closes on June 30.

“For financial aid, the priority deadline often coincides with state aid and grant deadlines, so it is a best practice to submit the FAFSA sooner rather than later for priority financial aid consideration,” Montgomery notes. Once the money is already allotted to students in the spring, there may be little to no grant money left for students who apply late.

Some students are unable to meet the early decision deadline because they need another try at the ACTs or SATs to raise their test scores, or because they need more time to fill out the multitude of forms required to process transcripts and applications for college admissions. Other students need to take the time to focus on raising their fall and spring grades to improve their GPA and overall profile before applying to college. For regular decision applications, colleges generally accept applications for fall admission until February 1.

What If My Student Misses the Deadline?

If your student misses the February deadline, don’t worry. Some colleges accept rolling applications from incoming freshmen until June 1 and from transfer students until July 1, although these students could be subject to an enrollment waiting list. The flexibility of each application deadline varies. It’s more common for smaller private colleges to have flexible deadlines, compared to the stricter, more selective admissions process at state colleges, which can be very competitive.

“Staying organized and maintaining all of your dates, deadlines, and priorities is essential to making sure you don’t miss any opportunity colleges offer to their newly enrolled students,” said Montgomery.

If your student is placed on a waiting list due to missing application deadlines well into the summer, it’s best to explore other college options for fall and evaluate the reasons your student did not meet the application deadlines in the first place. If your student has no interest in filling out the applications or a lower-than-expected test score or grade point average, they could be having second thoughts about attending college, and a heartfelt conversation might be in order. Attending a local community college in the fall can take some of the pressure off, so your student has time to raise grades and think about what college direction to make without rushing into anything.