The New Year is here—and, with it, the end of college admissions season for most schools. While a few deadlines linger, many have already passed; and nearly all of the regular decision deadlines will be over by this time next month. For many that’s a relief, as life goes back to normal for a while. However, if you missed college deadlines for whatever reason, you’re likely feeling the exact opposite.
Try not to stress out too much, if this is you! As much as it may not feel like it at the moment, this isn’t the end of the world.
Words of reassurance can only go so far. Instead, let’s get down to what really matters: the options you still have if you’ve missed most admissions deadlines.
Take a Gap Year
Gap years have an increasingly positive reputation! In fact, PBS points out that Harvard actually encourages admitted students to consider taking a year off before attending.
Of course, your situation is slightly different; you’re not appealing to a college to let you take a gap year before attending. Instead, you’re taking a gap year in order to have another shot at applying to schools the following year.
During your year off from school, you’ll have a chance to do things to strengthen your application. Is part of the reason you missed the deadlines this year nervousness, or stress that your application wasn’t good enough? A gap year gives you time to remedy that problem.
Be sure to ask your high school teachers for letters of recommendation now, and request that they keep them on file for the next round of applications. This way, they’ll be able to write the letters while you’re still fresh in their mind.
Go to Community College, Then Transfer
At most community colleges, the application process is far simpler than at other types of colleges. These are typically open admission, meaning anyone who applies is accepted. Applications tend to be accepted throughout the year, meaning you can generally sign up for classes fairly close to when they begin (though depending on the school and the program, classes may fill up, so don’t wait until the last minute).
You probably won’t need to take the SAT or ACT. So if not having taken those tests was the reason you missed deadlines, you’re in luck going this route. You may, however, need to take a placement test to figure out which classes to take, and you’ll likely need to provide a copy of your high school diploma.
After doing a two-year Associate’s degree at a community college, you can transfer to a four-year college if that’s where your interest lie. Many community colleges have a transfer system set up under “articulation agreements,” making it pretty straightforward to transfer to certain schools.
If you’re not clear on the concept of rolling admissions, check out our recent article on the subject for an in-depth explanation. To summarize: this admissions processing style involves evaluating applications as they come in, rather than after receiving every one.
Many schools with rolling admissions don’t have the same hard deadlines as other colleges, instead accepting applications until the incoming class is full — or at least throughout the spring, much later than most regular admissions deadlines.
The obvious benefit to this system is that you can still apply. Furthermore, you’ll likely hear back pretty quickly from these schools, since they evaluate applications as they arrive. The downside, however, is that you’re typically better off applying to these schools earlier rather than later even if admissions are rolling.
If you’re out of other options, though, it’s absolutely worth applying to colleges with rolling admissions even at this relatively late date.