Though many people think of the fall semester as the traditional time to begin college, there are other roads to an enjoyable and enriching higher education. Certain academic programs invite freshmen onto campus in the summer, well before the entire student body arrives, while other students start college in mid- to late-January.
This path, which is more commonly known as spring admissions, can seem like a disappointing departure from the regular admissions cycle. But in many situations, it can actually be advantageous. So—is spring admissions right for your college-bound child? Here are three scenarios where it just might be:
1. She has her heart set on a particular college or university
Picture this: you and your family visit the campus of a well-respected school, and your child immediately falls in love with its academic and extracurricular offerings, its environment, and the student body’s diversity. She is a competitive applicant, but there are also many other equally competitive students in the running. When she receives a response to her application, she is disappointed to realize she has been accepted for the spring semester—not the fall. Should she still attend the college or university? If it is truly her first choice, the answer is, “Yes!” As admissions competition continues to increase, certain schools have begun to use spring offers as a means of accepting more deserving students. So, congratulate your child, and submit that college deposit!
2. She hopes to complete a “gap semester”
The term “gap year” is perhaps more common than “gap semester,” but both are potentially enriching experiences for a college-bound individual. Maybe your student would like to travel throughout Asia or Europe for several months, or maybe she would like to gather hands-on career information before committing to a single major or academic track. In either instance, beginning college in January, rather than in August or September, can enable your child to properly research gap semester experiences or programs, begin said experiences or programs, and then apply to schools with the preliminary knowledge that she has gained as a framework for her decisions. Spring admissions also allows her to start college only one semester behind her peers, rather than two.
3. She wishes to improve her academic record
From time to time, a student finishes high school with an academic record that does not truly reflect her potential. She may have been distracted by social concerns or transitional issues in her freshman year, or she may have enrolled in one too many AP, honors, or IB courses as a sophomore. Perhaps chemistry or physics was an unexpected blow to her junior-year GPA. The beauty of spring admissions is that your child can use these extra months to repair and strengthen her transcript. Summer classes at a community college can demonstrate her readiness for university-level work, for instance. Online courses at a potential school are a second option that students and their families can also consider—their flexibility may be much appreciated during the busy period between high school graduation and college matriculation!
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