Fall intake versus Spring intake
The decision to apply to universities abroad is followed by a series of preparations that students need to undertake. Being a relatively new process, students are often plagued by a horde of questions and one such question is when to apply – during spring or fall? Students often wonder if applying for the fall season has many benefits and what are the pros and cons of applying for either of these intakes. Coming to a conclusion requires a comparative analysis of the various advantages and disadvantages, which can help the student to arrive at a well-planned and carefully thought out decision.
The following pointers can help you determine when to apply for fall intake and when to apply for spring intake:
1. Check if the university offers both intakes
It is important to ascertain whether the universities in question accept applications for both the seasons. Almost 75 percent of universities in the US do not have a spring intake for a majority of the courses. Thus, if you wish to apply for the spring intake, you should conduct a detailed research on the prospective universities, and find out whether they accept students in that season or not.
2. Courses offered
An advantage of applying during the fall intake is that there is comparatively a higher number of courses offered by a university as the number of applicants is higher during the fall semester. In spring, there are comparatively fewer students applying, and so the courses offered by the universities are also fewer. Thus, if you want to pursue a course which is relatively new and a rare choice of specialization, then there is a possibility that the course may not be offered in the spring semester. So, you must check your target universities if they offer the courses, especially if you are applying for the spring intake.
3. Time for preparation
More students apply for the fall intake since, by that time, they have already finished their undergrad degree. Since students from most countries complete their undergraduate course by May/June, they have a few months to relax and prepare for the fall semester, which begins in September.
4. Chances of securing admission
Acceptance rates usually do not depend on the semester you are applying for. However, since the class sizes are larger for the fall season, the number of admits during the fall term is greater. On the other hand, as there are fewer students who apply for the spring term, the chances of securing admission at the selected school tend to be higher than fall.
5. Second Choices
If you apply to a university in the fall semester, you at least have the option of trying again and applying for the spring semester if nothing works out for you. But you may lose out on such an opportunity if you only apply for the spring intake as the fall application deadlines may have passed.
6. Participation in extracurricular activities
If participating in extracurricular activities and being a part of organizations and student clubs is important for you, then applying for a fall semester will give you more opportunities because student elections take place at the end of spring. If you apply for the spring semester, you are a newcomer and less known in comparison to fall students who have been in the university for a longer time.
7. Assistantship Opportunity
Assistantships are usually secured by 2nd-year students on campus as they have had an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents to the concerned professor. As these students graduate, the vacated positions are available for the taking. Fall semester students generally have an advantage over spring students as they have extensively interacted with professors through their coursework; hence, the chances of securing the assistantship is much higher.
8. Internships outside the campus
Universities have mandated that their students must be a part of the program for at least nine months before they get permission to apply for off-campus internships. Applying during the spring means one cannot work off-campus during the summer season when most companies have formal internship programs. However, if the university treats the internship as part of the coursework, this issue becomes moot.
Campus recruitments are usually organized during the second year of the course. If you are a spring intake student, it means you will have completed two semesters. On the other hand, if you are a fall intake student, then you will have completed three semesters. Thus, fall intake students will have spent more time in the university and, therefore, will have an advantage over spring intake students. The extra semester helps them boost their profile and enhance their resume as they will have the opportunity to pursue projects, secure internships, engage in leadership roles, and be a part of student clubs. This gives fall semester students an edge when it comes to getting an on-campus job and a full-time job.
If you want to study in a sunny and warm state like California or Florida, you will enjoy a pleasant climate. But if the chosen university is in the colder regions of the country, and if you join in January, then you will face extreme weather conditions which can be uncomfortable and difficult to handle. Thus, you must keep the weather in mind before finalizing on which semester you want to join.
Spring or fall, this decision should be based on your needs and depend on your requirements and future plans. Take the time to view each option from every angle and then arrive at a concrete conclusion. There is no strict rule or option that you must take; after all, you are the best judge of your career.