Is Spring Admission Right For You?

Your child is elated . . . they have been admitted to their top choice college. And then moments later they are deflated . . . the admission is for the spring. Spring admissions? What is that? Why do colleges have them? Should a student accept such an offer?

In response to the surge in applications over the last several years, many colleges have started to offer spring admissions as a way to increase the number of first year students in the class, but at a time when the university has the capacity to house, feed and educate them. Housing is more plentiful in the spring due to the departure of seniors who graduate in December and the large number of juniors who are away from campus on study abroad programs. Typically some first year students will also withdraw in the fall semester or choose not to return for the spring semester.

Some colleges (Purdue, Middlebury) offer students the opportunity to indicate whether they wish to be considered for the spring semester on their applications. Other colleges (University of Maryland) select students for a spring admission where they think this will be a better fit for them. Some colleges (Middlebury) have had a spring admit program for decades, while others (Cornell) have more recently implemented it. At some schools (USC) the spring admit program basically substitutes for a waiting list, while at others (Rochester) there is both a wait list and spring admission option.

If your student is offered a spring admit, here are some things for them consider:

Can they graduate on time?
Usually! While not a guarantee, many spring admits are able to graduate on time. Students who have AP or IB credits can often use them to ensure they graduate “with their class.” Others may take courses at community college to earn credits (including in the fall when they would otherwise be in college), and some colleges will offer “January terms” or summer terms when students can make up needed credits.

Can they study abroad?
Yes! Even with a spring admission, students are able to study abroad. They may need to plan carefully to satisfy general education and major requirements, but with appropriate planning many spring admits spend a semester abroad.

Will they be able to transition to college mid-year?
With a little effort! Some spring admits can find the transition to college a little bit more daunting because first year students who were on campus in the fall may have already formed friend groups or become involved in clubs and organizations. But colleges work hard to ease the transition, making sure they have robust spring orientations. Because spring orientations are smaller, students often bond with one another and become a close-knit cohort for the rest of their time on campus.

What will they do in the fall when everyone else is in college?
So many wonderful things! While at first deciding how to spend the fall semester may seem like a “problem,” this is actually the best thing about starting college in the spring. Some students get jobs or internships – practical experience that is invaluable, “looks good” on a resume, and may even put a little extra cash in their pocket. Others take courses at community colleges, earning credits that they can transfer to college (and saving some serious tuition money). Still others take courses abroad, meaning they may get two abroad experiences while in college. Some relish the time as an opportunity to travel, while others prefer curated programs that students can participate in for the fall semester.

Being a spring admit may take some adjusting to – especially if it seems to have come out of nowhere. For some, it can initially cause a roller-coaster of emotions. But if your student is offered a spring spot at their top choice school, they should seriously consider if it is a good option for them. They need to weigh the pros and cons, which vary for each student depending on their unique circumstances, but whether they start in the fall or the spring, college is ultimately what they make of it and a spring admission offer may just be too good to turn down.