*UPDATED FOR THE 2023-2024 ADMISSIONS SEASON
So, you’re finally a senior. Aren’t you excited? If you aren’t, you should be! After all, you’re no longer that kid scurrying out of an upperclassman’s way. YOU rule the hallways now, and many of you are probably wishing you can hit the fast-forward button to senior prom and that day when you’ll get to walk across the stage in a cap and gown.
But hang on a minute. It’s only the beginning of the fall semester, which means that somewhere inside you might actually be freaking out. Are we right? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. The fall semester of senior year is probably one of the most stressful times of your high school career. You’re probably asking yourself:
- What school should I go to?
- By when do I need to apply?
- Are my grades and test scores good enough?
- Can I afford it?
- What if I don’t get in?
The questions go on and on and seem to only cause more headaches when parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and even friends, constantly bug you about one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in life.
But don’t despair! Just for you, we’ve come up with a quick cheat sheet to help you through the admissions process. We know it’s confusing trying to read through all the information out there, so let us help you out with a few points: (1) how to apply; (2) types of applications; (3) key deadlines; and (4) key standardized test dates. Let’s take a closer look.
How to Apply to College in 2023-2024
- Roughly 700 colleges accept the Common Application. Use it to register and choose the schools you want to apply to. The platform will tell you the deadlines for each school and also what additional materials you might need to prepare. You’ll have to fill in your basic biographical info and also write a personal essay (see below for more info about the essay).
- The University of California (UC) schools also share their own common UC application site.
- For schools not participating in the Common Application, you should visit the school’s website and follow the school’s directions regarding its admissions process.
Types of College Applications
- Early Decision – if you apply and are accepted, you must attend. This is a binding agreement. Deadlines are usually mid-October through mid-November, and you usually receive a decision by mid-December. Confirm the exact deadline with each school. While this option is great if you’re certain you want to go to a particular school, the major drawback of early decision is that you’ll have agreed to attend the school, regardless of what financial aid you may be able to get. We recommend that you reach out to the school’s financial aid office before applying if you have any financial concerns.
- Early Action – if you apply and are accepted, you don’t have to accept and usually have until May 1 to decide. Application deadlines are typically mid-October through mid-November. Confirm with each school. You might choose this option if you want to know whether you can get into your reach school before you spend more money applying for regular admissions schools. Be sure to check if your chosen schools offer Early Action or Early Decision!
- Regular Admissions – the normal admissions process. If you apply and are accepted, you generally have until May 1 to decide. You usually don’t receive a decision until mid-March/April. Application deadlines typically fall between January 1 and January 15 for most schools. One big exception is the UC school system. These schools require submissions by November 30.
- Rolling Admissions – process by which schools make decisions as they receive applications. The earlier you apply, the sooner you’ll receive a response. If you wait too late, you increase the chance of landing on a wait list.
2023-2024 College Application Deadlines
Each school has its own deadline since there is no centralized application review committee. However, deadlines can be divided into four categories, generally:
- Most early decision deadlines: between October 15 and November 15. Please check your target school’s deadlines ASAP!
- Most regular admissions deadlines: January 1.
- Rolling admissions: You should apply earlier (December to January) than later to lower your chance of getting wait-listed.
Tests: Should I Take the SAT or ACT?
Some schools accept either the SAT or ACT. While many schools used to require the SAT II Subject Tests, these were discontinued in 2021. As you narrow down your list of target schools, make sure to confirm which tests each school requires and register for each test immediately if you’re missing any required test scores.
2023-2024 School Year SAT and ACT Testing Dates
SAT Exam Dates (Register for the SAT)
|SAT Test Date*||Registration Deadline||Deadline for Regular Cancellation|
|Aug 26, 2023||Domestic: Jul 28, 2023|
International: Aug 11, 2023
|Aug 15, 2023|
|Oct 7, 2023||Domestic: Sept 8, 2023|
International: Sept 22, 2023
|Sept 26, 2023|
|Nov 4, 2023||Domestic: Oct 6, 2023|
International: Oct 20, 2023
|Oct 24, 2023|
|Dec 2, 2023||Domestic: Nov 3, 2023|
International: Nov 17, 2023
|Nov 21, 2023|
|Mar 9, 2024||Feb 23, 2024||Feb 27, 2024**|
|May 4, 2024||Apr 19, 2024||Apr 23, 2024**|
|June 1, 2024||May 17, 2024||May 21, 2024**|
*Your registration options will be limited if you aren’t taking the SAT for one of its main purposes.
**Subject to change.
ACT Exam Dates (Register for the ACT)
|Test Date||Regular Registration DeadlineLate Fee Applies After This Date||Late Registration Deadline||Photo Upload and Standby Deadline|
|September 9, 2023||August 4||August 18||September 1|
|October 28, 2023||September 22||October 6||October 20|
|December 9, 2023||November 3||November 17||December 1|
|February 10, 2024||January 5||January 19||February 2|
|April 13, 2024||March 8||March 22||April 5|
|June 8, 2024||May 3||May 17||May 31|
|July 13, 2024*||June 7||June 21||July 5|
*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the July test date. See Non-Saturday Testing
- If you’re applying for EARLY DECISION, the latest you should take the ACT is September 9.
- For REGULAR ADMISSIONS, you should take the ACT by September 17.
- Similar to the case for the SAT, if you wait to release your scores to schools until after you have reviewed them, it’ll take an additional month for schools to receive those scores. You could opt for rush reporting once your scores have been released.
- The table below summarizes the registration deadlines for the ACT:
Before submitting your admissions documents to your schools of choice, don’t forget to receive application essay editing for all your important college application essays. And try the free paraphrasing tool and free proofreading tool from Wordvice AI to instantly fix errors in your essay before sending it to an editor. For additional tips on how to draft your college admissions essays, please feel free to check out our other articles!