Why Starting College in the Spring or Summer Might Be Your Best College Move Yet

Happy college student turns sideways toward the camera and holds her thumb up.

Why Starting College in the Spring or Summer Might Be Your Best College Move Yet

Published March 21, 2024

Happy college student turns sideways toward the camera and holds her thumb up.

As colleges wrap up their acceptances and denials for the next fall, many students are receiving deferrals that grant them admission for spring or even summer semesters. In some cases, they’ll have to wait six months to begin taking classes, and in others, they’re being asked to start college earlier than expected.

The trend is happening at colleges across the nation where enrollment numbers have been trending upwards for several years. The school simply may not have enough openings to admit you for the fall, or its admissions staff may decide you need more academic prep before starting. 

At schools like Florida State University, students are being asked to choose between summer and fall semesters right off the bat as a way of mitigating the increase in applicants. “The median scores for their summer semester were slightly lower, so my daughter reluctantly chose summer, only to find out it was the best decision,” mom Nicole R. says. “She had time to get acclimated to the campus while only having to take two classes instead of a full course load, get a taste for dorm life, and start making friends.”

Applying for spring admission could even increase your chances of getting accepted since spring applicant pools are usually smaller and present less competition than in the fall. 

So, what happens if you have to wait until the spring semester of the following year to start college?

“My former stepdaughter was told that she simply did not have the chops to make it through calculus, which was required for all first-semester freshmen, so the school suggested she take it at a community college, which she did,” says Kristen L. “She started at the larger school in January without any problems.”

On the other hand, after spending part of her high school years sitting in her bedroom, Chrissy N.D. says her daughter “would lose her mind staying home for the fall while her friends go away. In situations like this, it’s almost better to have been fully denied.” When that happens, she says it’s time to mourn and move on. 

Widening the Applicant Pool With Spring Admissions

“A lot of schools do this to broaden the amount of people they can take,” says Dineen P.W. “Some also do summer admissions. Take a breath over the shock of it, and decide whether it is high on your list, and if so, will the late start be a deal breaker? My son will probably go to the school that gave him a summer admission. We were initially shocked, but now he is looking forward to the transition time!”

Some think schools do this to ensure seats are filled after kids graduate in December or study abroad for the spring semester. “They also do this because those spring admits are not counted toward the stats for fall acceptance,” says Rachel W.C. “So the stats for U.S. News & World Report and Niche can remain very high while still taking in kids who might not normally make the cut.” 

Getting Deferred to Spring or Summer Can Be A Blessing in Disguise

Christina P-P remembers when her niece was offered a spring admit that she was not expecting.  “For whatever reason, she didn’t meet the needs the school had at the moment,” she says. “In the end, she ended up at another university that she applied to since she had a fee waiver.” After being deferred to spring from her first choice, she decided to visit the other school and it turned out to be the best fit. “She found her place, took it in stride, and graduated last year. She’s doing her Master’s there now. Would she have done well at the original university? Sure, but the deferral gave her an opportunity she didn’t even recognize was there all along.”

Some schools offer admission only after students attend a local community college first.

“My daughter got into a reach school, the State University of New York, Binghampton, but must attend the local community college for the first 30 credits and then can seamlessly transfer,” says Stephanie B. “She’ll live on the main campus but attend the community college five miles away.”

Many schools have developed similar programs with their local community colleges, and for students who don’t mind, it’s a great path to ensuring they earn their degree from their dream school.

For students who are getting to apply now, it’s important to know there are different applicant pools for each semester. In some cases, it might be best to hold off six months and purposely apply for the spring, when class sizes are smaller. 

“Work in the fall and save spending money or take a couple of general education classes at a local community college that will transfer,” suggests Melissa J.R. “Use some time for one last family vacation. Maybe attend homecoming weekend at the university.” 

The point, she says, is that it’s not the end of the world to wait a few months if it’s going to provide opportunities and save you stress.

To join this and other conversations just like it, join our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group for free. You’ll get tons of tips and advice from parents like you.

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Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

The Truth about Your College Acceptance Odds: What Every Student Should Know Before Stressing Out

Navigating College Deferrals: Understanding and Turning Them Into Acceptance

Waitlisted or Deferred? Your Guide on What to Do Next

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

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