US College Admission Process – A brief study

US College Admission Process – A brief study

September 5, 2018 ACT Exam College application Education consulting GMAT GRE MBA MS SAT 0


The US College Admission Process

The general US college admission process consists of a number of steps:

  • Preparing for the GMAT or the GRE and the TOEFL (IELTS) and taking the tests
  • Making a list of university and program shortlists
  • Writing the CV, Statement of Purpose (SOP) and Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
  • Applying for financial aid and scholarships
  • VISA application

The info-graphic below provides a reasonable timeline covering all the different aspects of the US college admission process:

general USA university application timeline

The above general ‘US college admission process guideline’ would help maintain the relative order of carrying out the multiple stages. However, the main question that comes next is ‘When to apply’? A lot of terms keep doing the rounds – Fall, Spring, Early Action, Early Decision, Rolling admission and so on. What are these all about?

Read on to find out what they mean!

Our mentors at CUBIX are highly experienced in the application process and we help the students

  • Prepare for the GMAT, GRE, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS
  • Prepare their university shortlist
  • Help them prepare their CV, Statement of Purpose (SOP) and Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
  • Help them in their applications for scholarships and financial aid


The Fall vs Spring Application cycle

In India, the institutes have usually only one application and admission timeline, typically in and around August. However, in the USA, there are multiple application and admission timelines. The US college admission process mainly has two time slots when students can take admission – the Fall and Spring semesters.

  • The Fall semester stretches from August till end of December or middle of January next year
  • The Spring semester stretches from January till end of April or middle of May

Most students prefer to apply in the Fall intake since the Fall admission cycle closely represents the admission cycle of institutes in India. Institutes in India finish their courses in and around June. Hence, applying in the Fall cycle helps them maintain continuity in their studies. Also, most of the universities in USA prefer taking in international students in the Fall cycle.

However, there are students who have already taken a break from studies and are working. They may find applying in the Spring cycle convenient as well depending on when they plan to leave their jobs.

Advantages of the Fall Application cycle

The Fall application cycle has certain advantages:

  • Most universities in US participate in the Fall application cycle
  • A large number of courses in the US universities are on offer
  • Chances of financial aid and scholarship avenues are higher in the Fall application cycle
  • Students joining in the Fall cycle are at a better advantage to secure internships
  • Chances of on-campus jobs such as teaching assistants positions are higher


The US college admission – Fall Application cycle timeline

The timeline for application processes for the Fall cycle is shown in the info-graphic below. The info-graphic details:

  • The months when the applications start
  • When to apply for financial aid
  • Timeline for applying for scholarships
  • Application deadlines

Fall application cycle

The US college admission – Spring Application cycle timeline

The timeline for application processes for the Spring cycle is shown in the info-graphic below.


The US college admission – Early Action and Early Decision

The Fall and Spring application cycles, also known as the ‘Regular Decision’, are the normal application cycles. Apart from that, the US college admission process can comprise of other cycles. These are the Early Action and the Early Decision applications. These ‘Early’ applications allow the applicants to ensure their admission before the ‘Regular Decision’ applications.

These ‘Early applications’ usually have a higher acceptance rate. For the students, it is a simple way to avoid the rush during the regular application cycle. Let us discuss in detail what they are all about.


Early Action

Under this plan, a student can apply to an institute during November and get to know about the college selection result by December. The Early Action plan is NON-BINDING and the student can take time till around 1st May to decide whether to join the institute. Students can apply to multiple institutes under the Early Action plan as well as under the Regular Decision plan. Students, whose applications were not considered under Early Action, would still be considered under Regular Decision. There is another variation – the Restricted Early Action plan. Here, a student can apply to only one institute under the Early Action plan and to other institutes under Regular Decision.


Early Decision

This is a BINDING agreement. If a student applies to an institute under this plan, he or she must take admission to that institute, if selected. The student gets to know about the college selection result by December. The student compulsorily should withdraw all other applications made to other institutes if he is selected under Early Decision. Also, he needs to make the deposit within 1st May. Applying under Early Decision sends a strong signal to the institute about the preference given by the student to the institute. This modestly helps his or her chances of getting selected. Early Decision application deadlines are usually around early November. There is only issue in this application plan. It is difficult to get an idea of the amount of financial aid that would be granted. The Early Decision application remains binding unless the student feels that the financial aid is not sufficient.


The US college admission – Rolling Admission

There is yet another application plan, known as the Rolling Admission. Here, an institute accepts students for their programs throughout the year. This is obviously depending upon whether seats are vacant. The application process starts around the same time as the Fall session and remains open. Usually there are no application deadlines. The only issue with this application plan is that it is difficult to get decent financial aid since there are usually financial aid deadlines present.


For any further queries regarding the US college admission process, feel free to talk to our mentors and our counselors. You may book a free counseling session at any of our education centers. Also, you may reach us at +919433063089 and mail us at For details about our courses and our teaching methodology, do visit our website.

Also read about how to write a Statement of Purpose (SOP) in our other blog post.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

19 − 15 =