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Guidance » College Application Terms & Admission Types

College Application Terms & Admission Types

Early admission?  Early decision?  Rolling Admission?  
Confused with all those terms?  Here are general descriptions of various types of programs and decisions offered by colleges and universities.  And what is the difference between a college and university?  In most cases, a university offers undergraduate degrees (e.g., B.A., B.S.) and graduate degrees (e.g., M.S., M.A., etc.), while a college generally offers only undergraduate degrees.

Acceptance: The decision by an admissions officer or committee to offer the opportunity for enrollment as a student at a particular institution.

Acceptance Rate: The percentage of applicants a college accepts.



College Selection: The act of choosing and making the decision to enroll in and attend a particular higher-education program.


Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA): This agreement, sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, states that in order to allow students to consider all their college options, students have until May 1 to accept any college’s offer of admission.

Common/Universal Application: Standardized application forms accepted by many colleges. After you fill out the Common or Universal application, you can send it to any college that accepts it in lieu of the institution’s own application.


Deferred Admission: A category of admission used in conjunction with early (action, decision, 

notification, or acceptance) plans to indicate that a student has not been admitted early but will 

remain in the applicant pool for reconsideration during the review of applications for regular 




Deferred Enrollment: This is a category of admission available at some institutions for fully accepted students who wish—for a justifiable reason—to take a semester or year off before enrolling in college.



Denial: The decision by an admissions officer or committee to not offer a student admission to a particular institution.



Early Action: Early action is when a prospective student applies for admission by early deadline (before the regular admission deadline, usually between October 30 and January 15) and receives notice of acceptance, denial, or deferment between mid-December and mid-January.  There is no obligation to the university to enroll, if accepted for admission.



Early Admission: Through this program, qualifying high school juniors with outstanding academic records may forego their senior year in high school and enroll in a college or university.  Colleges usually award high school diplomas to these students after they have completed a specific amount of college-level courses.



Early Decision: Often confused with Early Action.  Through this program offered by many post-secondary schools, students willing to commit to a school if accepted submit their application by a date well before the general admission deadline (usually between October 30 and January 15).   You will have to sign a contact with the school that acknowledges that if accepted, you are obligated to enroll in that school. Students should only apply early decision to their first choice school.  If you apply for Early Decision, you should be 100% sure that is the college you wish to attend should you receive an Early Decision acceptance.



Gap-Year Programs: Year-long programs designed for high school graduates who wish to defer enrollment in college while engaging in meaningful activities, such as academic programs, structured travel, community service, etc.



Notification Date: The date by which applicants who are accepted for admission are expected to notify the institutions of their intent to enroll and make enrollment deposits. That date is often on or around May 1st.

Personal Statement: Sometimes referred to as a college application essay. Personal statements are essays that give admissions officers insights into your character, personality and motivation.
Rolling Admissions: This is a practice used by some institutions to review and complete applications as they arrive, rather than according to a set deadline.
Supplemental Material: Items you include in your college application to provide more information about your talents, experiences and goals. Materials could include work samples, additional essays, newspaper clippings, music CDs or art slides. Verify if a college welcomes (or requests) these materials before sending.
Transcript: An official record of classes you have taken and the grades you received. Usually you must provide a high school transcript with your college application.
Waitlist: A list of students a college may eventually decide to admit if space becomes available.
Yield: The percentage of accepted students who go on to enroll at a college. Competitive colleges have high yield rates.