Most students enroll in college for the fall semester and continue through the spring semester, but some aren't accepted until the spring semester or specifically apply for spring admission only. Some may begin their college education at one university and transfer to another for the spring semester. And some colleges don't have any remaining fall openings and can offer only spring admission. Fall admission offers some advantages, but spring admission is an acceptable alternative when circumstances make fall enrollment inconvenient or impossible.
Fall-admission students experience the beginning of a new school year with their peers. This is especially important for freshmen who are experiencing college life for the first time. Most schools have fall orientation activities for freshmen but offer limited orientation opportunities for spring enrollees. Housing and roommate assignments, fall sporting events and back-to-school parties help students adjust to college life. Students admitted in the spring must fit into a system that is already in full swing -- sometimes making it difficult to cultivate new friendships.
The flip side of starting college in the fall is the chaos associated with mass numbers of students arriving at once. Moving into residence halls is hectic, bookstores are crowded and parking lots are congested with students and parents. Students admitted in the spring don't have to deal with as much confusion and can unload their furniture and belongings much more quickly. Because many students plan out their academic schedules for the entire year, advisers also often have more available appointments for spring enrollees.
Fall admission is advantageous for students because they can take prerequisites in the fall and enroll in their degree-required courses in the spring. For example, students might not be allowed to enroll in a physics class without taking an introductory calculus class first, or an introduction to engineering course might be required to enroll in a higher-level engineering class. Fewer course offerings and class sections are available in the spring, making it difficult to work around academic schedules.
Students can apply for federal financial aid for fall semester, spring semester or both, but financial aid doesn't transfer between colleges, according to the Federal Student Aid website. Students who transfer to a new school for spring semester must fill out a new FAFSA form, and financial aid is recalculated. University-supplied financial aid is dependent on school budgets and might be limited for new spring enrollees if most of the aid was given to students accepted for fall admission.