Updated March 28, 2019
So, college admission Plan A didn’t pan out and Plan B is a little flat? Good news! Plan C could be your best choice.
For students who received offers from their first-choice institutions, it may seem like the whole world is set for this fall, but the fact is that is NOT true for everyone. Many students are still in flux, and even some who are set to enroll are now questioning their college admission choices. There are still options available!
Colleges that have late deadlines may still be accepting applications, and some other colleges on your list may still have available spaces. For many, community colleges are a fantastic (and often financially wise) first step on the four-year degree path. While college admission can be very fixed at top-tier institutions, the process can offer more flexibility at lower-tier (but still strong academic and fully accredited) colleges and universities.
The Gap Year Option
Many students benefit from a gap year — a year of learning and discovery typically taken between high school and college.
Evidence supports that students who take a gap year tend to do better in college than those who plunge right in. Take note, however, that a gap year is not just a vacation from school. College admissions officers do look at what you learned and accomplished during this time. It’s definitely not a year filled with hanging out. Fortnite standings will not stack up against the competition in the next year’s applicant pool.
For those already enrolling but hoping to attend elsewhere, there is certainly the option of transferring to a different college after one year, but a word of caution: Make sure to start working with a transfer counselor at the target school early (before registering for classes this fall) to be certain your freshman course selections will meet their college admission transfer requirements. (Why is this a big issue? Transfer applicants who don’t have first-year courses would be taking up seats needed for their incoming freshmen. That makes those transfer applicants not eligible and not competitive.) If your heart is set on transferring, remember you’ll be competing for admission with highly qualified applicants. You’ll need to have an academically strong freshman year at your current college.
Broaden Your Options
While college admission can be a time of harsh reality, it’s also a time of learning, stretching, and opening your mind to new ideas. In other words, don’t get your heart set on the full state flagship institution, but open up to one of the many excellent accredited institutions with space available. Or you can do a 180 and embrace an alternate plan.
- Contact the admissions offices of a new round of schools, and ask if they’re still taking applications.
- Ask your school counselor about colleges that may have indicated they’re still seeking students, and for other tips and ideas.
- Read up on the gap year, if it’s something you’re seriously considering.
The links below can help point you in a new direction:
- Check out Peterson’s List of Late Deadline Schools.
- The American Association of Community Colleges has a comprehensive community college listing, by state, at http://www.aacc.nche.edu/pages/ccfinder.aspx.
- Interested in doing a broader college search, for now or next year? Find listings beyond just the top public and private colleges on U.S. News & World Report’s College Rankings, with lists such as Top 100 Highest Acceptance Rates and A+ Schools for B Students.
- Our Gap Year series has good information and resources. Read Discovering the Gap Year and The Wide World of Gap Years for great ideas and links.