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Private Colleges

Independent Colleges and Universities

  • Stanford-University
    Filing periods vary with most beginning in January.
  • Most have requirements comparable to the CSU/UC system.
  • Some require SAT or ACT.
  • CaliforniaColleges: lists filing dates and requirements for independent colleges and universities in California.
  • AICCU: to search for independent colleges and universities in California.
  • NAICU: to search for independent colleges and universities across the nation.
  • Common APP: common applications for many selective independent colleges and universities across the nation. 

Applying to a Private College or University?

Important guidelines for applying to private and out of state colleges and universities:

  1. Be aware of deadlines.  Check with their literature and websites for applications deadlines.  Some universities such as USC have a two process application with deadlines for both parts.
  2. Do not apply last minute.  The majority of the applications will include essays, letters of recommendations from teachers, and a letter of recommendation from your counselor.  For your counselor, you would need to give a minimum of three weeks notice before the letter is due.
  3. Review the following common terminologies associated with private colleges:


Selective involves the use of academic criteria which are evaluated within the guidelines of minimum standards.  Considered might be qualitative measures and non-academic selection, which increases with the selectivity of the application.  Considered might be academic record, test scores, activities, awards, leadership, etc.

Believe it or not, there is no set range for selectivity.  Admission might be 14% or 85%, meaning that they admit 85% of the students who apply.


Early Action

Early Action permits the student to apply to an institution of preference and receive a decision well in advance of the normal response dates in the spring.  The candidate is NOT committed to enroll at that particular institution.

  • Students may apply to other colleges.
  • Institution will notify the applicant of the decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time.
  • Student will not be required to make a commitment prior to May 1, but is encouraged to apply earlier.

Advantage:  If a student is accepted, he/she is not obligated to attend. 


Rolling admissions means that the institution processes applications and makes decisions as the applications become complete.  There is no deadline, or a late deadline.  Applicants are notified continuously.


Early Decision

This is the term used to describe the application process in which a commitment is made by the student to the institution, that, if admitted, the student will enroll.

Only a student who can make a deliberate and well-reasoned first choice decision should apply under an Early Decision plan because the institution will require a non-refundable deposit well before May 1, the national reply date.

  • Students may apply to other colleges but may have only one Early Decision application pending at any time.
  • Institution will notify the applicant of the decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time after the Early Decision deadline.
  • If admitted, the student will enroll UNLESS aid award is inadequate.
  • Immediately upon acceptance of offer, student will withdraw all other applications and make no subsequent applications.

Advantages:  Students learn EARLY in their senior year about their college choice.  Students need to have their entire testing profile completed early, be aggressive about visiting colleges, and be VERY organized about their college search process.