Submitting your application within the deadline is the single most important part of the admissions process. Taking the time to put together an outstanding application, complete with a brilliant personal essay and impressive recommendation letters is futile if you do not send in your application on time. Very few colleges if any will even bother to look at any applications that come in after the deadline.
Priority Deadlines: If you apply before this deadline, you have a higher chance of getting admitted and/or receiving a scholarship to a university. Many state and/or public universities use priority deadlines to encourage early applications. They do not guarantee admissions to those who apply after the priority deadlines but do accept some of those applications. (Taken from: getmetocollege.org)
Priority deadlines to the University of Utah for example, is November 1st; and Utah State University is January 10th. These dates are subject to change year to year, school websites are always the best source for accurate and up-to-date information on deadlines.
Regular Admissions: This is a set deadline for applying to a college. You apply by one date-usually January 1-February 1. You find out in March-April whether you get admitted. You must let the college of your choice know your decision by a certain day, usually by May 1.
Rolling Admissions: Some public universities and private colleges offer Rolling Admissions. You apply as soon as you can and within a few weeks you can find out whether or not you get in. This goes on throughout most of the admissions cycle for a college. Once your application is complete, you can get a decision. Westminster College, for example, has rolling admissions.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Both public and private schools, universities and colleges, provide financial aid assistance. Each school will also have their own deadlines when applying for financial aid so be aware of the deadlines for each school in which you apply. Some schools may also require that you complete a separate application when applying for scholarships; others will accept your school application as your scholarship application. Be aware of the differences in your college search and keep track of these deadlines.
Enrollment Deposit: Some schools now require that you make an "enrollment deposit" once you have been accepted. The enrollment deposit is a way for you to confirm your intent to attend that school. At the University of Utah, for example, you are not allowed to enroll in classes until you have paid your enrollment deposit.
Housing: Whether you plan to live on-campus (in a dormitory) or off-campus, many colleges and universities have separate procedures and deadlines for student housing. Be aware of these deadlines which may include separate applications and payments. Check each individual school's website to learn about their housing process and deadlines.
Deferral: Deferral is a request by you to "defer" your enrollment to a later date at a school to which you have been accepted. Most colleges and universities have an application process for students who wish to do this, whether it be for religious service, military service, or other reasons. Each school will have its own application and deadline so make sure to get this information either on their website or by calling an admissions counselor.
The big question we often hear is: "If I am planning on deferring my enrollment, should I apply now or just wait until I get back?" The answer is always and unequivocally: APPLY BEFORE YOU LEAVE. That's what deferment is for - take advantage of it!