This is one of the most pressing questions that every student aspiring to pursue their graduate level education considers. For a lot of candidates, the “Fall versus Spring” has been a subject of immense debate. Majority of the universities in the US, Canada, Australia and Germany offer two admission intakes – the Fall (which commences in late August) and the Spring (which starts in January) (some may even have a Summer (May-June) intake). While most of the students seek admission into the Fall intake, there are several myths surrounding the Spring intake – be it concerning the coursework, internship opportunities and the number of admissions offered – that we, in the following article, will attempt to debunk; and, at the same time, present several advantages and disadvantages one should keep in mind when considering the Spring intake. For any student deciding whether to go for a Fall or a Spring intake, the first point of consideration is the available universities. It is an indisputable fact that Fall semesters offer more seats (primarily because accommodating volumes of students in one semester is far from being a feasible option),
but that certainly does not mean that one will be left with only low-ranking universities in Spring. Some of the highest sought after universities – including Purdue University, Cornell, CMU, University of Melbourne, Columbia University, among myriad others – offer programs in Engineering, Analytics, Finance, supply Chain Management, Marketing, Pharmacy, etc for the Spring intake. As a matter of fact, most of our students were able to secure admission into the courses of their choice and interest in their dream universities. This is the biggest advantage of applying in Spring and it outweighs a lot of cons.
Secondly, it is a common misconception among students that, for the Spring intake, the lower admission rate will be to their disadvantage. As a matter of fact, while the number of seats on offer may be less, so is the competition. Since the students who are currently in their final year of their studies (comprising a large fraction of the candidates) will not be looking for the Spring intake, the prospects of seeking admission into the Spring intake are surprisingly high as competition is much lower. Based on empirical data, we have seen that students applying for the Spring intake get into better Universities compared to their Fall counterparts who have a similar profile.
Another significant consideration every aspiring student takes into account is internship opportunities on offer. While some universities may require students to have completed at least two semesters before applying for internships, those who are pursuing a program that requires immediate participation in CPT can apply for off-campus summer internships. Financial aid opportunities – assistantships and on-campus jobs – is another point of contention for students when deciding which intake they should opt for. While the Fall intake offers more assistantship and part-time job positions (owing to a higher acceptance rate), the less competition seen in the Spring intake evens out the imbalance. Rest assured, there are plenty of opportunities available for Spring students as well. If they cant intern in the first summer, they can pick up RA/TA roles and work with professors on projects or sign up for summer courses and then do internship in the next summer.
Once the applications have been submitted, and the acceptance letters received, the next consideration in line is the Visa. This topic has also fallen prey to false conjecture – that those applying for the Spring intake are less likely to receive Visas. Irrespective of the semester one joins in, the granting of Visas depends, as it always has, on the basis of one’s qualification and eligibility. Contrary to popular belief, the intake has no bearing on the obtainment of the Visa.
Although applying for a Spring intake would not land a student in an inescapable predicament – a conjecture we’ve attempted to break through the above-stated pointers – there are some disadvantages that starting in a Spring semester offers. Beginning their education in what is considered a ‘not so standard’ time, it is possible students may not be able to make the best of some of the university’s, or their department’s, resources. While this may not be as detrimental in cases of large universities, one may suffer when applying to a smaller, private school. Furthermore, in terms of the courses on offer, while the exact courses will not vary between the two intakes, the orientation of the curriculum does – and that may be worth noting. In the Fall intake, many upper-level courses are kept in Fall, which is followed with their corresponding graduate level courses in the Spring semester. The same trend follows when it comes to housing and accommodation. With more leases being available and signed in Fall (owing to large intake rates), students can face difficulties in securing accommodations in Spring.
Lastly, Spring intakes may not be the best choice for students who are seeking transfer to another career / course. A lot of universities offer prerequisite courses only in the Fall intake. Or if the course of a 1-year duration, then Spring intake limits the number of options you may have.
There are several attributes – available universities, coursework, internship and assistantship opportunities, and visas, among others – that come into play when choosing the intake. While the decision should rest on these factors, we can safely say that the Spring intake isn’t as scary of an option as the popular belief may have you believe. We recommend that you keep all the considerations in mind and choose wisely. It is, after all, a question of your future.