Starting College in the Spring: The Benefits and Challenges
While a majority of college students tend to move onto campus and begin attending classes in the fall, there are a number of advantages associated with starting college in the spring. Whether your chosen program filled up before you secured a spot for the fall semester or you have to take a prerequisite course first, it’s absolutely OK to jump in during the spring semester!
There are some unique obstacles associated with starting school in the spring, but plenty of positives, too. Azusa Pacific University works to enhance students’ college experiences—no matter the semester in which they start. So, here are some of the benefits and challenges you can expect when you begin attending classes in January.
Benefit #1: Excitement Abounds!
Regardless of when you start, it’s crucial to note that you’ve taken the most important first step toward your college education: getting started! That’s something you should be excited about (and proud of). You’re making a commitment to invest your time and energy into a better future.
Of course, you know there will be a few challenges along the way, but that’s simply a part of life. As the spring semester approaches, hold on to that excitement and embrace the challenges as you face them—some may turn into opportunities.
Challenge #1: Adjusting to Campus Life
You may find that some things around campus have “settled” by the spring semester and the newness of school has worn off for some students. As a result, you might feel like you’ve been thrust into an already-established environment—like you don’t know the ins and outs of the culture or how to fit in around campus.
This can be uncomfortable at first, but a great way to quickly learn the ropes is by becoming part of the community. Joining a club or attending campus-wide events can help you meet fellow students and feel more confident and comfortable.
/articles/finding-your-tribe-making-friends-in-college/ Here are some great ways to feel connected to others during your first semester at APU:
- Join a club or take part in intramural activities.
- Attend events specially designed for new students, like APU’s Welcome Weekend.
- If you’re a transfer student, check out Transfer Connections, which is specifically geared toward helping transfer students make connections around campus.
Benefit #2: Extra Time in the Fall
This one may be obvious, but it’s worth noting: starting school in the spring allows you to spend the autumn months however you wish. If you feel down about not starting school in the fall, try thinking about what you’ll gain from having the semester off—not what you’re missing out on. Here are some great ideas for spending that time:
- Get a full-time job. This can help you save up money for the spring semester.
- Find an internship in your chosen professional field. This is a great way to build your résumé. -Take elective courses at a community college. This can help you earn credits before arriving on campus, but it’s a good idea to first check with your school to confirm they’ll count toward graduation. -Treat the fall like a gap semester and travel abroad or around the country. You can treat the world as your classroom!
It’s totally up to you to decide how to spend the semester. For some, the months provide an appropriate transition from their high school years or previous endeavors—helping them to focus more intensely on their college career at APU and developing their professional ambitions.
Challenge #2: Meeting New People
Making friends might seem a bit challenging when you start college in the spring. By this time, many students have fallen into a tight circle of friends. This doesn’t mean you should be discouraged, though. There are many ways to meet people and make new friends on campus—and if you ever need some support, you can reach out to APU community members such as RAs, faculty, staff, and campus pastors.
You can also meet more people by leveraging the school’s long list of student resources. These services are designed to put you in touch with like-minded (or relatable) people. It may surprise you to learn just how many specific types of groups are available on campus! For example, APU offers valuable resources such as:
- Military and veteran services
- Services for students of diverse cultural backgrounds
- Campus ministry opportunities
By making use of the available resources, you may discover new academic programs or areas of interest. The best way to learn about all the opportunities available to you is to get involved—and ask!
Benefit #3: Spring Enrollment Doesn’t Affect Graduation
The best part about starting college in the spring? You can still finish your coursework on time and walk at graduation with everyone else. It may take a bit of extra planning and a semester or two with extra courses, but it’s entirely doable. Even if you’re not on campus yet, it’s a good idea to make a plan with your academic advisor via email. The sooner you find out what you have to do to graduate on time, the better.
As you can see, starting college in the spring is definitely not a bad thing. There will be some unique challenges, but that’s going to happen no matter when you start. The key to rising above these obstacles is to be proactive.
Planning to start your college career at Azusa Pacific University this January? Explore the schedule of events for the Spring Welcome Weekend.
Posted: December 12, 2019