Still unsure of your plans for the fall? If you're considering enrolling in college, it's not too late—as long as you're interested in one of 362 schools.
Though most colleges enforce a May 1 decision deadline, there are still spots available for entering freshmen at many private colleges and some public institutions, according to the Space Availability List released by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) on May 3.
Students already enrolled in college but looking to switch have an even wider variety of schools to choose from, as 374 institutions reported they are still accepting transfer students for next fall. Most schools on the full list also reported having financial aid available to new students.
[Get tips on transferring colleges.]
"At this point in the year, colleges are just beyond the May 1 national response date, so some of the colleges on this list may be in need of students to round out their classes for the fall," explains David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at NACAC. "It is a good opportunity to fulfill a college's need and a student's need at the same time."
Schools on the list designate whether they have room remaining for freshmen and transfer students, and whether financial aid or housing is available. Institutions including Arizona State University and Ohio's Baldwin-Wallace College are open to each type of student and report they have aid and housing options. Other colleges, such as Villanova University outside of Philadelphia and the University of Dayton in Ohio, make clear on the list that they only have limited spots, aid, and housing.
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Requirements will vary by school, but the admissions process for late-comers is likely similar to what regular applicants went through.
"We do take all the same things into consideration over the summer, so it's not easier to get into even though we're doing it a little more expedited," says Christine Krut, admissions director at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), which is still accepting freshmen and transfer students. "The biggest difference is the sense of urgency on both our part and their part."
Prospective freshmen still in need of an academic home for next year usually fall into one of two categories, admissions directors say: They have simply been disengaged with the process, or their initial college plan suddenly and completely changed track—perhaps due to a new intended major, a sudden desire to stay close to home, or a hefty financial burden at the schools they previously considered.
"For some of the late applicants that we're working with now, it's a matter of cost," says Susan Dileno, vice president for enrollment management at Baldwin-Wallace, a regional university with a strong local student presence. "They're finding their aid packages weren't competitive enough or large enough for them to afford to go away."
[Avoid five assumptions about college financial aid packages.]
Regardless of your situation, if you're interested in one school or several on the NACAC list, reach out to admissions officials directly—and immediately. While schools are free to update their openings on the list over the next two months, many don't proactively change their statuses to let students know once all spots are filled, NACAC's Hawkins says.
Plus, initiating contact with prospective schools is a crucial part in what can be a more accelerated decision-making process, Hawkins notes. Calling the admissions office will not only ensure they have room for you, but will give you a chance to ask questions and ensure you're making a sound decision despite the time pressure.
"Don't wait anymore," NYIT's Krut advises. "This is not the time to take your time in terms of starting the process, but [to] communicate with the schools you're interested in."
Acting soon can also help you to capitalize on what's left of scholarships, she notes.
"Things like financial aid are set pools," Krut says. "We still have thousands of dollars left of money to give, but [later in the summer] we can't be as generous as we might be right now."