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Is a Spring-Start in College a Good Idea?

written by: Andrea Glick•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/8/2011

College students typically start their academic careers in the fall, however more students are starting college in the spring semester for a variety of reasons. Is this a good idea? What does starting later affect? Do these students graduate on time?

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    The Four Big Spring Start Implications

    The traditional college student begins classes in the fall semester. However, more and more students are beginning college in the spring or summer semesters. In doing this, there are less applicants for that semester and a traditionally higher chance of acceptance. Some other factors for starting late are: to save money to pay for school, health problems and family issues.

    For those considering starting their college career in the spring semester, there are four important implications to consider:

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    Graduation Date

    The first two years of college are important for any student because this is when all of the prerequisite courses are completed. Prerequisite courses can be an issue for college students starting in the spring semester because many of the prerequisites are also sequenced courses.

    This means that many classes offered in the spring semester have courses that must be taken before them. Those classes, prerequisites, are typically offered in the fall semester.

    As imaginable, this will have an effect on a student's expected college graduation date. Beginning college in the spring semester will make staying on a 4-year graduation track much more difficult but not impossible.

    Many students who begin courses in spring end up taking courses in the summer semesters to make up for the courses that they may be behind in. One summer of playing catch-up can typically put a student right back on track. However, scholarships are not typically available during the summer semester which keeps many students from taking classes during that time.

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    Finances

    One great thing about attending college is that there are so many scholarships available for deserving students. However, this can prove to be an issue for those students beginning college in the spring.

    Many scholarships will not let you apply unless you will be enrolled in the fall. This has an incredibly negative effect on a student's ability to pay for that first spring semester. Once that semester is over, it should be smooth sailing.

    This does not apply to prepaid college funds or state-funded scholarships but to the smaller, local ones.

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    Housing

    Something that not many students think about is housing. A college student's housing situation is debatably the most important experience while in college. The housing situation has the ability to make (or break) a student's productivity and social stability.

    When looking for student housing, the majority of the leases are from August to July - catering toward the students who began in the fall. This is true for dorm rooms to off-campus student housing.

    Off-campus non-student housing will offer leases that begin any month, as long as there are apartments available. However, for a student's first year, traditional student housing is suggested and even required at some universities and colleges.

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    Social

    College can be a frightening place especially during a student's first semester. This is the time when people make new friends and get acquainted with the campus. For students beginning a semester late, finding a place in the social scene can be a bit more difficult. Typically by the spring semester, students have established themselves and found a set of friends.

    For people who have difficulty with securing themselves socially, starting a semester late could cause some problems. This is not to say that it's impossible for someone to secure their social stature later in the game but it definitely is more challenging.

    Starting college in the spring semester is necessary for some and is not a bad thing. However, before choosing to postpone attending, be sure to weigh out the social, housing, financial and graduation date implications.