Niche Resources

What Is Direct Admissions?

Four students looking excitedly down at one of their phones. Over the photo are the words "GET IN ANYWAY"

The story goes that it’s hard to get into college, right? Countless movies, TV shows, Reels and TikToks tell the same story of a high school senior overwhelmed by applications, worried about getting into the school of their dreams or maybe scared they won’t get in anywhere at all. The stress about applying to college that so many high school students feel is very real — but what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Would it shock you to hear that 60% of the four-year colleges in America accept at least 80% of their applicants?

The truth is that you have much more power in the college admissions process than you realize. There are hundreds of schools in the U.S. that offer a quality education and want students just like you. Some are even willing to take the application out of the process entirely, and that’s where direct admissions comes in.

So what is direct admissions?

Direct admissions is all about colleges coming to students instead of the other way around. If a college knows they would welcome a student like you based on your grades and other credentials, you shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to get in. Run by some states as well as private or non-profit companies, direct admissions programs aim to simplify and streamline the admissions process by encouraging colleges to proactively accept high school seniors who haven’t applied. 

Imagine getting into college and receiving a scholarship without having to fill out a complicated application, submit recommendation letters, send test scores and answer specific questions from the school. Don’t apply to college and get in anyway? With direct admissions, you can.

How does direct admissions work?

Because direct admissions is a relatively new concept, the process of going from accepted to enrolled will vary depending on which company, state or college you’re working with. Make sure you pay attention to what each program requires as you explore all of your options.  

In most cases, all you have to do is fill out a profile with basic details like your GPA and activities. Colleges are able to consider all students who fit their qualifications, then proactively offer acceptance to whoever they think would be a good match.

Some companies and states still require students who have been accepted through direct admissions to complete an application and/or pay the college’s application fee before enrolling. So even if you already know you have a place at a certain school, you still have to jump through a few hoops to get there. These programs might make it easier for you to figure out what options you have, but they don’t really make it easier for you to get in.

With Niche Direct Admissions, you never have to fill out a full application. You won’t have to pay an application fee, and you’ll even know how big of a scholarship you’ll receive. Any acceptances you get will appear on your Niche dashboard, and there will be a “Next Steps” link leading to the college’s webpage dedicated to Direct Admissions students. There you’ll find any additional steps you need to take before enrolling, like sending in your official transcripts or providing a few last-minute details.

How is direct admissions different from other methods of applying?

To really understand direct admissions, it’ll be helpful to compare it to the traditional ways of getting into college. We’ve written about the different methods of applying before, so check out that blog post for super detailed breakdowns. Here’s an overview in a nutshell:

  • Early action: You submit your application early in order to hear back early. Under early deadlines, you also have the advantage of being in a smaller applicant pool. Early action is usually not binding, meaning you aren’t obligated to attend if accepted, but some schools expect you to apply to only one college under early action, so read each school’s website carefully.
    • A note: While you may receive a yes or no early, you could also get deferred. That means the admissions committee needs more time to review your application, so you can expect a decision around the time they release regular decisions. Writing a letter of continued interest is the best thing you can do to let the committee know you’re still serious about attending (you can read our tips to draft your letter)
  • Early decision: Like early action, but binding. If you get in, you have to attend, so save this option for your absolute dream school. Again, you can get accepted or rejected early, but you can also get deferred or waitlisted. Writing a letter of continued interest is a good idea in this case, too.
  • Priority deadlines: Your application will take priority if you submit it by the earlier deadline (rather than the later, regular deadline). You’ll still be considered if you miss that priority deadline, but it might take longer for the admissions committee to get back to you since they’ve committed to reviewing the priority deadline applications first.
  • Regular decision: You submit your application by the college’s regular deadline and hear back when they typically release decisions. Regular decision means you’ll be in the biggest pool of applicants, but the upside is you can apply to as many schools under regular decision as you want.
  • Rolling admissions: If a college offers rolling admissions, that means they have no hard deadline for when you have to submit your application. The committee will review applications as they receive them. However, you’ll definitely want to have your application in well before classes start, and the college might stop accepting students if they fill all their spots.

A note on deadlines: While specific dates vary from college to college, deadlines like early action, early decision and priority tend to be in the fall while regular decision deadlines are usually not until early winter or spring.

No matter which of the above you choose, you’ll still have to fill out an application just to be considered. That’s the major difference between traditional methods of admissions and direct admissions.

How does Niche Direct Admissions work?

With Direct Admissions, you won’t be the one doing the heavy lifting — colleges can come to you if they’d like to offer you a spot in their incoming class. If you’re a senior and you’re interested in going through Direct Admissions, the first thing you need to do is create your free Niche account and fill in your profile with your GPA and other personal details, like the high school you attend. Since your Niche Profile is what colleges use to determine if you’re a good fit, it’s important your information is accurate and up-to-date. You’ll also need to make sure your account settings let any college contact you.

Niche's privacy settings page. On the side menu are the options "About You, Contact, Privacy, High School Education, ACT/SAT Scores, College Education, Work & Employers." On the Privacy page it says "Email Preference" with a check box next to "I would like to receive email updates from Niche regarding account notifications, new rankings, and special offers." Below that it says "Contact Preferences. College Contact Preference." There are check boxes next to "Allow any college to contact me or my child, Only allow colleges in my list to contact me or my child, Do no allow any college to contact me or my child." Below this it says "Niche helps schools recruit students like you. When you add a school, we may share your profile information so they can recruit you directly. Learn more."

You can see all colleges that are currently offering Direct Admissions on this page. Be sure to check it throughout the year, as new schools may join the program. Direct Admissions colleges also have a badge on their profile (here’s one example).

If you add a Direct Admissions college to your list and you meet the acceptance criteria, you’ll automatically be considered. Any acceptances you receive will appear on your Niche dashboard, along with your scholarship offer and any next steps to complete before enrollment.


While they’re relatively new inventions, direct admissions programs are growing quickly. This simplified pathway from high school to higher ed will re-write the story that it’s hard or even impossible to get into college because it really doesn’t have to be. As you prepare for life after high school, remember that you have more power than you’ve been told and more options than you thought in the college admissions process.

Author: Niche

Niche helps you discover the schools and neighborhoods that are right for you.