May 1st, the traditional deadline for college enrollment decisions, has come and gone. I certainly hope that all of you about-to-graduate, college-bound high school seniors have made your enrollment decisions and are happy with your choices. There's a great feeling of satisfaction knowing what the near-term future, in general, will hold for you.
But what about those of you who have experienced circumstances that have left you out in the cold — even at this late date — about where you will be going to college this fall? You may be feeling panic or at least major frustration about your future, not to mention what your parents must be experiencing on your behalf.
Maybe you're currently clinging to a tenuous waitlist or two. Or maybe you've suffered the consequences of poor college-process strategy and have been denied at all of the colleges where you have applied. That doesn't happen too often but it does happen. Even if you have been denied everywhere, maybe you are unwilling to take a so-called GAP Year and go through the full application process again this fall.
In all the cases above, and probably some more that I haven't mentioned, what in the world can you do? Fear not. There is hope.
As College Confidential's Sally Rubenstone notes in her excellent discussion forum thread, Colleges With Openings for Fall 2016 [NACAC Annual List] —
Each May the National Association for College Admission Counseling compiles a list of colleges that still have space available. Some of these schools have application deadlines that have officially passed, yet they are now accepting applications anyway. But read the list carefully because sometimes the openings are just for transfers or sometimes there is little or no financial aid still available.
What will you find when you go to this interesting list? You'll see this:
College Openings Update 2016
NACAC's annual College Openings Update: Options for Qualified Students (formerly the Space Availability Survey) is a voluntary listing of NACAC member postsecondary institutions that are still accepting applications from prospective freshman and/or transfer students for the upcoming fall term. Now in its 29th year, the College Openings Update is designed as a tool for counselors, parents and others assisting students who have not yet completed the college admission process. Typically, colleges will continue to join the update after the May 5 public release date, so check back periodically to see additional colleges still accepting applications.
Participation in the College Openings Update is limited to NACAC member colleges. Principle Representatives (PRs) at all NACAC member colleges received an invitation to participate via SurveyMonkey. If you need any assistance in completing the survey, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. New responses will be added daily.
For more information, please visit the College Openings Update FAQ.
This is important information that actually embraces the higher education world at large. You can search the globe for openings, both by state in the U.S. and by country. What do you find when you do a search?
I chose to search college openings in Pennsylvania. As of today, here's what I found:
All this just for one state! There are some wonderful schools on this list. Penn State University, Lycoming College, Wilson College, Westminster College, Messiah College, Juniata College, and Grove City College, just to name a few.
So, what should you do? Obviously, you should do some fast research to find out which colleges meet your preferences, although at this point, you should maintain a modicum of flexibility. Don't dismiss a school for superficial reasons (“It's way too small," “I don't like the location," “The mix of men and women isn't right," etc.).
Under the circumstances, you should be grateful that there is hope for you to get into a good school for Fall 2016, rather than being left behind. Use your best brand of common sense when approaching these listings.
Let's take a look at what some of the posters to Sally's thread think about the schools listed here …
– I'm shocked at all those great schools!!
– I'm shocked at many of the great schools on that list. I think this could be a very helpful thread for a number of students. That terrific schools like these can't find students is because students don't hear about them.
– Some great schools on there. Also, it seems that a ton of public universities keep admissions open and rolling; I'd like to think it's to increase access, because it's hard to imagine they're strapped for students or money. There are a few flagships (University of Oregon and University of Missouri!) and a bunch of good directional unis.
Anyway I'm just pulling out a few of the standouts among the private colleges / LACs for anyone who might not be too familiar with the playing field and is just overwhelmed by that huge long list …
– What struck me was how many “Colleges that change lives" schools were on the list. I assumed those schools were getting tons of interest due to the publicity and the merit they give out.
– … I think part of what drove that list was that those schools were under-appreciated gems.
– The thing about CTCL [Book: Colleges That Change Lives]schools is that they *won't* appeal to many students interested in a traditional university experience. Several are very small with an untraditional bent (New College of Florida – written narratives), others are good schools but in rather unfortunate locations (Lawrence was a bit too far north and cold for my daughter), Hampshire is commonly mentioned but it also has an unconventional curriculum structure that may turn off many applicants. The St. Johns Colleges (Annapolis, New Mexico) also have a very unconventional curriculum (Great Books) Not a CTCL but I can see Prescott having the same issue.
So, if you're still in limbo about going to college this fall, by all means check out this list of still-available openings. Do your homework, find a great candidate or two (or three), and see what it takes to get in and pay for it. Where's there's a will, there's a way.
Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.