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Students May Be Accepted for College, But for Spring Admission

By Vicki Nelson, courtesy of College Parents of America

Your student probably waited eagerly for that important admissions letter to arrive from his college of choice.  He hoped for an acceptance (possibly even early admission), but knew that either being waitlisted or rejected were also possibilities.  However, what he may not have expected was to be admitted–but for admission the following spring rather than in the fall.  An increasing number of schools are now considering this strategy.  What does it mean for your student?

If your student is accepted for spring admission, it means that the college has accepted her, but can’t seat her until the following spring. The first thing that your student needs to realize is that it is admission.  If this is her first choice of school, she can pay the deposit knowing that she will have a place in the spring.  She should consider the option carefully before making a second choice out of frustration. If this is her first choice, it may be worth the wait until spring.

More colleges are considering this option in order to stabilize their student population throughout the year. Colleges lose some students at the end of the first semester due to failure, transfer, or mid-year graduation. They know that they will have places available in January that are not available in September. The practice is more common in smaller, liberal arts colleges, but its popularity is growing at other schools as well.

Your student may have several things to consider if he is a spring admit. It may be difficult for him to think about staying at home while his friends head off to college in the fall. It is frustrating if he is ready to begin. However, he may want to consider several options.

  • He might get a job and have an opportunity to save up some money before beginning college–either to have a head start on tuition or so that he won’t need to work during the school year.
  • He may take some courses at a local community college so that he will not lose a semester but will be on a par with his classmates when he begins in January. 
  • This may provide your student with a welcome break from academics for a semester–but with the assurance of a place in January.  He may return to the classroom with renewed energy.
  • If the college is close enough, he might be able to take some classes through an extension division or continuing education evening division and not lose any time.
  • Although he may not have chosen it at first, this might provide your student with an interesting gap semester during which he might travel or gain experience through an internship or community service endeavor.
One advantage, for some students, of beginning their college career in January is that they can avoid all of the confusion that surrounds the arrival of many first-year students in the fall. By the time that your student arrives on campus, life will have settled down. However, for some students, this may be a danger. Although there will also be other new arrivals in January, less attention may be paid to helping these students get oriented, some friendships will already have been made, key positions in clubs or on teams may have been filled, and housing choices may be more limited. All of these are factors that your student will need to weigh.

Beginning college mid-year will not be the right choice for every student. However, for some students it can provide a welcome break–and the assurance that they have been accepted by their first choice college. As a college parent, you can help your student consider the pros and cons of the situation and make an informed choice with which she is comfortable.


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Don Munce