When Do You Start Applying for College and How To Apply

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Applying for college is an exciting process because you’re taking an important step toward your future career. As a current high school student looking ahead to college, you will have a lot of information to sort through and some big decisions to make. Some students may find it a little confusing. In this guide, we will cover common questions about the college application process, such as:

  • When do you start applying for college?
  • When is the earliest you can apply for college?
  • Is early decision the same as early action?
  • What goes into a college application?

Fortunately, applying to Grand Canyon University is a breeze, especially when the application is no-cost, there are a variety of scholarship opportunities and you can receive individualized help from full-time GCU university counselors! Here, you can find out when to start applying for college at GCU and how you can reap the benefits of applying early. 

In This Article:

Best Time To Start Applying for College

The college application process is made up of many components. Plus, admission decisions can vary widely from institution to institution, so it’s important to do your research and determine exactly what is required of you when applying to each school of your choice. Take the time to read through the undergraduate admission requirements at GCU. 

Some universities require applicants to submit the application along with a personal statement and letters of recommendation. Most universities require either SAT or ACT scores, and some prefer one over the other. At GCU, if you have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, you are not required to submit either SAT or ACT scores. However, submitting test scores are recommended to potentially increase your scholarships or to be considered for admissions if the GPA requirement is not met. GCU does not require you to submit an essay for the application process.

Each school’s application varies in terms of the information it requires. At GCU you submit your unofficial transcript and within 24 hours you will be provided a proposed graduation plan that includes estimated costs, start date options and estimated graduation date, if you follow the schedule provided.1 As you complete each task, you come one step closer to finding your purpose at GCU!

Perhaps the most important factor in applying to college is making sure to meet the deadline. Early application deadlines are important because many institutions have a limited number of students they can accept each year. Applying early may put you in a position to fill a coveted and highly competitive spot. Unlike other universities, GCU does not have specific admissions deadlines. That means you can apply any time for the opportunity to start a degree program on campus or online.

Earliest You Can Apply for College

When is the earliest you can apply for college? If you apply to a rolling admissions school, such as GCU, then you can apply whenever you’re ready. Otherwise, you’ll need to check the school’s website to find out when they begin accepting applications. Usually, it’s in August or September.

At GCU, you can apply as early as the end of your junior year in high school (after your sixth semester). Applying early to GCU has its perks and is encouraged. The benefits of applying to GCU early include:

  • Additional scholarship opportunities and possible eligibility for the Priority Registration Grant
  • Class schedule preference
  • Preferred housing
  • Participation in Discover GCU and GCU events. 

The Priority Registration Grant at GCU can award students money annually based on the number of awards available at the time of registration. Students may renew this award every fall and spring semester if they maintain the minimum required GPA. The requirements for registration vary across each program.

However, even if you do not apply early to GCU, there are still plenty of scholarship opportunities available. 

Are Early Decision and Early Action the Same?

Some schools offer early decision or early action admission plans — or both. They aren’t the same thing. If you apply on an early action basis, you are not automatically obligated to attend that school. Early decision, however, is binding. If you submit an early decision application, you are committing yourself to attending that school if you are accepted. GCU offers early decision plans.

Applying for College at GCU

GCU maintains rolling admissions. Schools without rolling admission establish hard deadlines. They collect applications up until that deadline, and then begin reviewing them. In contrast, as a rolling admission school, GCU reviews application materials continuously as they come in. 

This means you can apply to GCU at any time of the year. If you get accepted in the middle of a semester, you may begin classes the following semester. For some people, applying early for college may mean applying more than a year before enrollment, while others may consider applying the summer prior to be enough time.

GCU invites you to fuse your passion with purpose as an online or on-campus student. Our colleges offer numerous degree programs that teach foundational skills intended to help our graduates launch their chosen careers. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about joining our learning community.


1 Service offered on business days only.


Approved by the assistant vice president of GCU marketing on July 24, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.