Can I transfer or start college in the middle of an academic year?

Dennis Kelly - Contributing columnist

Can I transfer or start college in the middle of an academic year?

The perhaps surprising answer to this question is, “Probably, yes.”

Many public and private colleges and universities admit students each year before the start of the spring semester, which typically begins in mid-January.

For example, Wilmington College accepts new students every spring semester. This year, classes start Jan. 20. This opportunity to pursue your four-year degree is especially timely now as the world continues to adjust to the pandemic.

Who typically enrolls at mid-year? There are students who just graduated from high school who purposely delayed their decision to attend in the fall 2020 due to COVID-19. Many took a gap semester to work and earn money for college.

Also, active military enroll after completing their service, while transfer students from other institutions, graduates from two-year colleges and displaced workers who have decided the time is right to earn a college degree can be found enrolling mid-year.

While many colleges and universities offer scholarships and housing opportunities to new students starting in the spring semester, it is best to navigate each institution’s website to ensure these are truly available.

Prospective student-athletes should research particular schools of interest and their athletic conference to learn the status of their sport(s). As a result of the pandemic, many athletic conferences have adopted alternative training and competition schedules.

Indeed, Wilmington College’s affiliation, the Ohio Athletic Conference, announced most of the traditional fall sports will have abbreviated competition schedules beginning in March. Also, winter sports are pushing back the start of their competitions to begin in late January.

A potential windfall for many student-athletes, is the NCAA Division III’s recent announcement that participation in 2020-21 sports will not be counted against student-athletes’ years of eligibility.

Keep in contact with the coaching staff from your schools of interest, as the NCAA continues to adapt to an ever-evolving situation with regard to COVID-19.

Many colleges and universities will start spring classes in the days following the Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance on Jan. 18 unless they offer short-term, online winter classes that begin earlier in the month.

Most college offices will be staffed prior to Dec. 23 and beginning again the week of Jan. 4.

It is essential that you make contact as soon as possible with the Admission Office at the school or schools in which you’re interested, even if it’s simply sharing your contact information.

Staff members can answer your questions and provide you with publications that can assist your college search.

Dennis M. Kelly, a nationally known enrollment administrator, has been presenting columns in the Wilmington News Journal on navigating the college search process as a service to local families. Kelly is the senior vice president for enrollment management at Wilmington College.

Dennis Kelly

Contributing columnist