How Long Does the College Admission Process Take to Complete?

Waiting for the college application process can seem like it is taking years.
Public domain photo by George Hodan.

Applying for college can can be a long and arduous process. There are many different tasks in the college admissions process that you will need to complete in order to have the best possible chance to get into your first choice of colleges. Students often question how long it takes to complete the process of applying for colleges. Part of the answer to that question is that there is no way to tell.

It often depends how you define the question.

One of the earliest things you will want to do is to take a Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) in the Fall of either your sophomore or junior year in high school. This means your college application process could begin three years before you start school at your chosen university.

If you are wondering how long it should be before you hear back from a school to which you applied, part of the answer will depend on the size of the school. At smaller schools, many people may look at every application before a decision is made on whether or not to admit the student. At larger institutions, the decision could be made by a single individual.

The general rule-of-thumb is that decisions are usually made, and responses returned, within a few weeks. Some colleges only respond at certain times of year, which are usually defined by the institution’s semester schedule. If you don’t hear from a school to which you have applied within two weeks of submitting your application, give them a call.

Want college application news and tips delivered right to your inbox?

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way.