When applying early means less competition

The sooner someone applies for a job opening at Collegewise, the better their chances of being hired. Obviously, the longer someone waits, the more likely that job will be filled by the time they apply. But there’s a second, more subtle reason for the early advantage, one that can also benefit applicants at some colleges.

When we first post a job, we haven’t received any applications yet. No interviews scheduled. No irons in the employment fire. The field is wide open. For someone who doesn’t leap off the page as a strong candidate but who also shows potential, we’ll probably interview them just to make sure. We’ve got plenty of time and not a lot of candidates yet. Why risk letting someone potentially great get away from us?

But each week after that, the field gets more competitive. Dozens (and for many positions, eventually hundreds) of applications come through. Interviews are scheduled. Eventually, we’ve got 10 or 15 or 30 applicants we’re getting to know and that our Talent Department is evaluating. We can’t hire them all, so we’ll have some tough—but great—decisions ahead of us. At that point, we need to whittle the pool down, not fill it back up.

Bottom line: the longer you wait, the more competition you’ll face.

Does that mean we might ultimately pass on someone who would have been just as successful if not more so at Collegewise? Yes. But hiring employees—like admitting college applicants—is an imperfect practice. Eventually, decisions need to be made. And those who show up earlier increase the chances of those decisions going in their favor.

Applicants applying to colleges that use a practice called “rolling admissions” can use this to their advantage.

While many colleges wait to review applications until the deadline passes (the date you submit yours won’t impact your chances provided it’s before the deadline), rolling schools evaluate applications as they are received, then send admissions decisions back throughout the cycle (sometimes as soon as four to six weeks later). The earlier you apply, the less competition you’ll face—and the sooner you’ll get your answer!

Applying early in the cycle won’t change the outcome for an applicant who just isn’t qualified. But for everyone else, why wait for more competition to show—and more spaces to fill—up? Apply early when the field is still wide open, and potentially get yourself a few offers of admission before the competition. I’ve seen many students who began their senior year having already received one acceptance (or more) from rolling admissions schools. That’s a nice feeling of confidence to carry with you as you complete the rest of your applications.

That’s why our Collegewise counselors usually advise that students complete their rolling applications first, even if those schools are far from their first choices. Your chances of admission will be stronger because there are a lot more spots available at the beginning of the admissions cycle than there are at the end of it (and you never know when the class will fill up).

Like any admissions requirement for any college, the only failsafe way to verify any college’s admissions information is to visit the websites of the schools themselves. But here are a few examples of colleges that have traditionally admitted applicants on a rolling basis:

Arizona State University
Indiana University
Michigan State
Penn State
University of Arizona
University of Alabama
University of Minnesota

Rolling admissions is not a secret—colleges will come out and tell you when they use it. And unlike other admissions programs like “early decision” or “early action,” rolling admissions is generally not an option you must select.

So as you review your colleges’ application requirements, pay attention if they tell you that applications are evaluated on a “rolling basis.” At those schools, remember that as the deadline nears, the competition intensifies.