Benefits of Starting College in January
December 17, 2014
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The traditional academic year starts in August and ends in May. So, for many college students — and those who have just matriculated — the beginning of a new class, professor and set of textbooks are typically anticipated in the fall. But did you know some institutions, both two- and four-year colleges, allow you to enroll in January?
Because the rest of the student body started in the fall, this can present a challenge when it comes to adjusting socially, especially for a freshman. But there are still certain benefits of starting college in January.
Why a January Term?
There are several reasons why an institution might admit you in January. Some colleges purposely admit students in January under the expectation that many freshmen who began in the fall will drop out, creating vacancies in classrooms and residential halls. New room availability may also come from students graduating early or studying abroad. Other colleges may not have enough openings to fit you in the fall entrance and offer you deferred admission instead. Alternatively, it may be a decision based on your academic record; the college may decide you need more academic prep prior to enrolling in a particular program.
Nevertheless, a January start can be perfect if you want to get another degree, improve your economic position or change jobs — especially if you've been working or otherwise immersed in another academic activity the previous year. Some of the benefits of starting college in January include:
Defined Path to Job Market: Often, colleges that provide a January start offer tailored academics, an array of courses that enable you to earn academic credit. Whether they consist in a major, minor or elective, they're high-demand courses that are not only career-focused, but help you accelerate the progression of your degree program, as well.
Flexibility: It can get pretty hectic if you join in the fall semester, bombarded with student clubs and other social obligations amid a full-time course load. A January term typically has a lighter introduction, allowing you to focus on your academics and concentrate on personal interests at the same time. Besides, your college may let you take classes at another college if they are not offered locally.
Financial Considerations: Not to understate the high cost of college, but depending on your career goals and the duration of the program you want to pursue, you may incur relatively fewer expenses than students admitted for the fall start with regard to tuition fees and living expenses per semester.
Time to Discover and Experience: If you just graduated high school, a winter start gives you more opportunity to pursue other activities while you wait. You can take up a temp job to build a financial base for college. If you can afford it, take time to travel, expanding your knowledge and experience of the world. Some colleges may offer programs in the fall geared toward students slated for winter term or spring semester admission, so you can start attending your college now and participate in campus life before class begins.
Though the long-held image of freshmen moving into college in the fall is still the norm, those who opt to join in the winter are driven by a variety of advantages. With an increasing number of 20-somethings and recent high school graduates who aren't sure what to pursue, opting to explore other activities prior to a January start is more convenient. From a monetary standpoint, it allows those who cannot immediately afford to pay tuition to work for a few months and save toward college.
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