Fall is the most popular time of year to start college, and for good reason. Students have more courses to choose from at the beginning of the year. They can also apply for assistantships and internships sooner than spring applicants. Not everyone, however, is able to start school in September. For some students, it makes more sense to apply for the spring semester. Which term is best for you? Will you miss out on anything if you start college a semester late? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for each option.

Course Availability

More students start college in the fall, and that means more courses are available. Some of these courses are prerequisites to those that begin in the spring. Others start in the fall and run straight through the next term. Fall applicants don’t need to deal with this issue, but spring applicants do.

Depending on the school and the program, certain courses may not offer open enrollment for the second semester. Make sure to do your research before sending out applications. Reach out to the schools and find out what your options are. Keep in mind that there are also ways to get course credits ahead of time.


The main advantage of spring admission is its flexibility. If you can’t start college right away but don’t want to wait a year, spring makes for a good compromise. Spring applicants can spend the fall working, traveling, recovering from health issues, or doing whatever else they need to do. Plus, international students may want more time to practice their English-speaking skills before moving to the U.S.


Fall applicants have the advantage when it comes to assistantships. To qualify for a teaching assistant (TA) position for a class, applicants must have completed the course with a high grade. First year students can usually apply for TA positions during the second semester. Because spring applicants haven’t completed any courses yet, they’ll have to wait for the next hiring blitz.

A Second Chance

Colleges get so many applications that it’s impossible to start everyone right away. For this reason, students who apply for the fall semester are sometimes accepted for the spring semester instead. This situation is hardly ideal. However, if it happens with you, and the school you’ve applied for is your top choice, you may prefer to wait the extra four months. Check what the college offers for spring admits, such as a spring orientation program. You can still have a great first year even if you’re starting late.

Off-Campus Internships

If your heart is set on getting an internship, you’re better off applying for the fall semester. Students in the U.S. must complete at least nine months of college before applying for off-campus internships. This means that spring applicants can’t apply for a summer internship until their second year of college. However, that doesn’t mean your first summer has to be futile. You can still make your summer break productive, and that internship can wait until next year.

The best time for you to start college depends on your personal circumstances. Fall offers the most advantages, but spring is a great choice for those who need a little more time to adjust to college life.

Writing an essay is nobody’s idea of a good time, and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid in college. This task can seem especially daunting for first-year students who now have to face more stringent standards than they’re used to. Thankfully, writing essays — and writing them well — gets easier with practice. Here are four tips to help you kick butt on that upcoming term paper.

Keep Your Outline Flexible

Whether you choose to draw a mind map or stick to a more linear type of outline, keeping your plan flexible is key. Leave more space on the page than you think you need for each section. Your outline will start out fairly basic and become more detailed when you research your topic. You should be able to easily add facts as you find them or cross out notes that no longer seem relevant.

Does all your supporting evidence work against your thesis instead of with it? Don’t be afraid to modify things! The planning stage is all about finding the best ideas and making sure they fit together well. When you have a strong argument from the start, the writing stage will be that much simpler.

Write the Body First

Although you can write your essay in whatever order you choose, many students prefer to write the body first. The body is the portion of the essay with all the quotations, statistics, and any other facts or arguments. It’s also the portion that undergoes the most revision. Because the introduction and conclusion are based on the body, any changes to it will force you to adapt the rest of your paper. Try writing the introduction and conclusion last to save yourself some time.

Cut Out Fluff

Be ruthless with your editing, and remove anything that doesn’t add value. Each point should relate directly to your main argument. It can be easy to lose focus and go on tangents or add anecdotes, so watch out for them. Maybe you couldn’t resist mentioning that “Hamlet” has been translated into Klingon. It’s a cool fact, but your English essay probably isn’t the best place for it.

Ideally, you should take a 24-hour study break after you’ve written the rough draft. You’ll be able to catch mistakes more easily when you read your paper with fresh eyes.

Follow the Writing Guidelines

Depending on which course you’re taking, you’ll have to follow the style guidelines. APA style and MLA style are commonly used, but certain courses may use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Basically, these rules tell you how to properly format quotations, citations, page numbers, and more. Check your course syllabus to find out which style guide you should use, and make sure to follow it. It would really suck to lose marks just because your margins aren’t the right size.

Incorporate these tips the next time you write an essay, and see if they help improve your grade. If you still need more help, make sure to check out your on-campus academic resources.

4 Best Free Apps for College Students

There’s an app for everything these days, including how to survive your college years. Best of all, some of the most useful Android and iOS apps won’t cost you a cent. If you’re looking for tools to help navigate campus life, you don’t need to waste valuable study time trawling through the app store. We’ve got you covered with this handy guide to the best free apps for college students.

Brainscape: Supercharge Your Studies With Flashcards

Studies show flashcards are the most effective study tool for motivated learners. They engage active recall, facilitate confidence-based repetition, and make us reflect on the information we know and what we could use more practice on. They also allow us to separate the cards containing details we recognize with those we don’t for a more focused study experience.

Brainscape has taken this approach into the digital age. This clever app lets you create your own virtual flashcards or study with premade cards about popular college subjects. Tracking and collaboration features within the app also help you make the most of your study session.

Todoist: Organize Your Daily Activities

Organizing your class schedule, assignments, and social life is challenging. Todoist simplifies the process, acting as the ultimate to-do list and calendar. Schedule appointments and deadlines, create tasks and subtasks, and share your information with friends and project partners so you’re all on the same page.

While there is a paid premium version, the free app has sufficient features for most college students. Plus, Todoist integrates with desktop and browser extension versions so you can easily switch between your smartphone, tablet, and PC.

Mint: Manage Your Money Better

Managing money is another area where many college students struggle. Fortunately, Mint helps you expertly transition to life away from the Bank of Mom and Dad. This free finance app securely links to your bank accounts and credit cards so you can see exactly how much you’re spending and on what.

Review your transaction history to help you identify areas you can cut back on. Create budgets for different types of spending to make sure you don’t overindulge on your weaknesses. Establish credit card spending limits so you’ll never charge more than you can pay back. This money app does it all.

Circle of 6: Safeguard Your Social Life

The parties and new relationships are some of the best parts of the college experience. However, meeting so many new people carries an element of risk. With Circle of 6, you can enjoy the college social scene with extra peace of mind.

Name six safety contacts and you’re good to go. If you ever feel unsafe, click once to text your contacts for help. You can also transmit your location or send an SMS asking your friends to phone you, providing a convenient excuse to leave an uncomfortable situation. Plus, the app makes it easy to reach out if you simply need a friendly ear. Helpful links and hotlines for managing mental health, relationships, and sexuality also add value.

Whether you’re hitting the books or enjoying your downtime, these great apps will help make your college experience much easier.