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When to Enroll in College: Deciding between the Spring Semester and Fall Semester

Posted on May 29, 2019
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A number of universities in the US have two admissions intakes; namely, the Fall semester and Spring semester. The Fall semester runs from mid-August to mid-December, and the Spring semester runs from January to early May. Most students apply for enrollment in the Fall semester since it is easier to transition from high school graduation in May/June to a Fall enrollment. However, in some situations, you may receive an acceptance offer from your preferred school, but not until the Spring admissions intake. In this case, what should you do? Below, we weigh the relative advantages of enrollment in the Fall and Spring.

Advantages of enrolling in the Fall Semester:

1. Courses

Since the Fall semester is the university’s primary enrollment term, they offer a smorgasbord of entry level courses across majors and departments. The number of these introductory courses, particularly for popular majors, is much more limited in the Spring.

2. On-Campus Employment

Most on-campus job positions are available in the Fall and require that you have at least one year of college experience. Spring admits would have to wait till the Fall semester of the following year before they are eligible to apply, losing out on one entire job application cycle.

3. Student Life

Socially, if you are admitted in the Spring semester, you are going to miss freshman orientation and socializing opportunities for new students. It is also much easier to get involved with extra-curricular activities like student clubs and organizations in the Fall. This is particularly true for procuring a leadership position or competing for an award within one of these organizations, as those who have been involved from the beginning of the academic year will maintain a competitive advantage.

4. Summer Internships

In terms of internships, a number of universities require that you have at least 9 months of college experience before you are able to apply for an internship, which means that you will be unable to apply for a summer internship in your freshman year. Thoroughly research your college’s policies to see if this is applicable to you. Additionally, recruitment usually happens in the Fall and Spring of the final year. Students that enrolled in the Fall semester are likely to have a competitive advantage over you since they would have had at one more semester than you to boost their resume and leadership experience.


Advantages of enrolling in the Spring Semester:

1. Time to spend on yourself

After two particularly rigorous years in high school, you now have the opportunity to take some time to breathe. You also have the opportunity to maximize your time between 12th grade and enrollment in the Spring semester. Travel, spend time with family, volunteer and get work experience. Need ideas? Get inspired here.

2. Time to catch up academically

Take this time to strengthen your core academic competencies or weaknesses, so that you are ready for courses at the college level. A number of universities offer college-level programs/courses tailored specifically to Spring semester admits. Thoroughly research your options to see what makes sense for your specific background.

3. Time to settle in

When you enroll in the Spring semester, the hectic orientation schedule and formal socializing opportunities that can be overwhelming are done within the Fall. This helps you get a calmer, more relaxed start to the year. You can better define your own terms on how you want to acclimate to college life.

When you weigh the options, it becomes apparent that if possible, a Fall semester start is preferred to the Spring semester. If you have been admitted to a college you would love to attend in the Spring, you could always try to negotiate with the admissions office to enroll in the Fall semester. However, if this does not work for you, do not despair! If this is the college of your dreams, just take the Spring admission offer. In the long run, getting admitted in the Spring will not matter.

If you need help in making a decision in the context of your specific background, or if you need help planning your time before starting school in the Spring, ReachIvy can help you tailor a strategy to your specific needs.

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