Q: A lot of my friends spent almost all winter break working on college applications that were due January 1. But I am applying to several schools that have "rolling" decisions, and some of them say they will take applications as late as April. So am I right to take it easy and get my applications in later? What's the big hurry?
A: You may not be in a hurry, but colleges are eager to know if they will enroll a full first-year class. On the one hand, "rolling" policies seem flexible – you apply when you want, as long as it's before the deadline, and you get a response as soon as it's ready. But on the other hand, this also means that a college may fill all its available spots earlier than expected. When that happens, the last students who submit their applications may find themselves on a "wait list." That is not a pleasant situation.
A couple of years ago this happened with a CUNY - LaGuardia Community College. Students who thought they'd have no trouble being admitted learned that more people than anticipated had applied, filling the class early. Those students had to wait to see if they could get into a different CUNY school instead.
Unless you are someone who loves that last-minute rush of adrenaline, waiting until the absolute final day to apply is a bad idea. Submitting your applications ahead of the deadline will get you earlier responses. If you are asking for financial aid, the committees reviewing your papers will also have more time to make sure you get full consideration. Also, giving yourself more time will insure that you send a quality application, without the errors that often occur when we work in too much of a hurry. Please don't be tempted to procrastinate!