Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two More Options as Colleges Send Decisions

By Patrick O'Connor Ph.D.

Most of the Ivy League college news will land today, Thursday, at 5 PM.  We’ve discussed some of the options students will receive when they open their e-mails or letters, but there are two other trends that deserve a little attention from the Class of 2012:

January Admission  Seniors expecting to hear an answer from an admissions office may instead be asked a question—“How About January?”  A growing number of larger universities (most of them public) started using this approach about four years ago.  Knowing some freshmen who arrive as part of a large class in the fall will not be returning in January, these colleges invite some applicants to plan on coming to campus in the middle of the year, where they will have a bed, a room, and class sizes that don’t require the Superdome to seat the class.

Students see some clear plusses in this offer.  First and foremost, it gives them something many students crave—regulated time off from school.  Knowing college awaits them in the winter months, students travel, complete volunteer work, or more often find fall jobs to make sure their college experience is well-financed once it happens in January.  Parents should also see the plus of sending their student off to campus well after the Fall Frenzy, when energetic freshmen find try out ways to test their new-found freedom in ways that are, well, interesting. 

On the other side, students will also miss some of the safer fall rituals.  Football games are a big part of many schools that offer January admission, and many students make lifelong friends during those crazy fall days.  Some colleges might be talked into offering football tickets to January admits (hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask), but think carefully about saying yes to a later start if you’re worried about making friends.  You may need to work a little harder at building friendships in January; on the other hand, you could be the hit of campus with stories of your fall adventures, and you could find it easier to get better grades now that everyone’s a little more settled.

Transferring  Record applications and high college costs are leading more students and families to decide their senior will start at one college, then transfer to another college.  If this is something you’re considering, keep these points in mind:
·         Make sure your dream college accepts transfers.  There are some colleges that don’t accept transfer students, or admit so few that it’s impossible to achieve the dream.  Ask ahead.
·         Check transfer requirements.  Students often assume they can transfer to another college after just one semester, but that isn’t always the case.  Ask the college you’re transferring to for a transfer guide; this shows the classes you should take at your first college, and it outlines what grades you need to have for transfer admission.
·         Beware of electives.  You don’t always get the classes you want at your first school, which may tempt you to sign up for an elective not on the transfer guide.  This may still work out, but don’t waste your time and money; call the transfer admission office at your future college to see if this class will count as an elective, a requirement, or as nothing.
·         Enroll early.   Many transfer students start at colleges where enrollment for Fall classes starts in late June.  Don’t get five 8 AM classes by accident; apply to your first school now, take their placement tests now, and register—well, you get the idea.

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