Making Sense of a Spring Admission Offer

Why it happened and what it means for your student.

 By Anne Vaccaro Brady

DaffodilsjpgA growing number of colleges are offering freshman year applicants spring admission, foregoing a move to the wait list or, for Early Action candidates, a deferment to the regular admissions pool. I did some research to learn more about this trend.

The reason colleges are going this route It’s a business decision. With a significant number of students leaving campus after the fall semester due to December graduation, spring study abroad or dropping out/transferring, colleges have available space in their dorms and classrooms. By accepting a group of freshmen for the spring, they will easily fill those spaces, keeping their colleges at capacity.

These colleges accept applicants for spring as a policy The University of Maryland continues to increase its number of spring admits with about a quarter of its freshman class now accepted this way. University of California—Berkeley, University of Southern California, University of Vermont, Middlebury College, University of Rochester, Northeastern University, University of Miami, Boston College, Colorado College, Cornell University, Binghamton University, New York University, University of North Carolina—Charlotte, Tulane University and Hamilton College all have some type of spring admissions program.

The students who receive spring offers Students accepted for the spring semester generally have the same qualifications as those admitted for the fall. Despite the declining number of high school students nationally, colleges are receiving record numbers of applicants for the same amount of available spaces. They simply can’t accept every qualified applicant for the fall.

Why accept If this is still your student’s top choice school, their only college offer or they find the idea of starting in January appealing, then they should seriously consider taking the spring admission offer.

Why decline Your teen might want to pass if they’ve been accepted to other colleges they like just as much if not more, the financial aid package doesn’t meet their needs, they want to start college as a matriculating student in the fall or this college never sat near the top of their list to begin with.

Students accepted for the spring semester have the same qualifications as those admitted for the fall.

What’s next if you say yes It’s important that you and your student read all the instructions carefully, including the deadlines to accept spring admission and apply for financial aid. These may or may not be the same as for fall freshmen. Confirm that campus housing is guaranteed.

Check which of your teen’s AP and/or IB scores will earn credit so they’re not starting in spring with zero. Your student wants the best chance of graduating when they originally planned.

Colleges keep in touch with spring admits about deadlines, orientation dates, housing options, as well as the private Facebook/social media group they’ve set up for spring freshmen to get to know each other.

What to do in the fall Colleges with spring admission programs give the same suggestions:

  • Take classes at a community college or a four-year school as a visiting student (your teen can call the spring college for suggestions on which courses to take and the credits that transfer the easiest). The University of Maryland and UC Berkeley both have programs where spring admits can take classes off-site or during off-peak hours through their university. Some colleges, like NYU, limit the number of credits you’re allowed to earn at another institution in the fall. Taking classes will keep a student on track to graduate with the fall freshmen.
  • Travel or study abroad. Some colleges, like Northeastern, have study abroad programs set up for spring admits, while others provide info on American colleges abroad whose credits they accept.
  • Take a gap semester to work, volunteer or intern, preferably in a field of study or career path you’re interested in.
  • Attend campus activities. Some colleges provide free or student-rate tickets to football games for spring admits.

Ways to fit in on campus Have your teen check out the spring admits social media page to start connecting with other students before they arrive. Orientation provides another opportunity to get to know spring freshmen. Signing up for at least one extra-curricular activity will make it easier to meet students with similar interests.

Generally, spring admitted students say they find no difference in how they’re treated by fall freshmen, with whom they’re often placed in campus housing. Keep in mind that most intro-level classes are filled with students who haven’t shared a previous class together, so no one will notice if yours wasn’t there last semester.

Spring admission usually isn’t a student’s ideal acceptance choice, but it doesn’t have to be a roadblock to having the college experience they hoped for.

Share your family’s experience with spring admission, and your advice, in the comments section below.  

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