Should I apply for Fall or Spring? Advantages of Fall vs Spring for Scholarships, TAs, RAs, etc.?
When you choose to apply to US Universities for Masters or PhD program, depending on the time of graduation and taking of GRE and TOEFL, students are often caught between decision to apply for Fall or Spring. There are some misconceptions among students too about admissions and visas like : “ Is it easy to get admission in Spring ? Will visa stamping be easier in Spring ? Many visas get rejected in Fall ? , etc”. This article will focus on some of the advantages of fall and when is it advisable to apply either Fall or Spring.
Scholarships, Fellowships, Assistantships in Fall vs Spring :
One of the most important things for admission are funding of any sort. I am sure you are familiar with academic year and when it starts and ends. Typically for High School or 12th grade. Typically, it starts anywhere between July – August and ends anywhere between March or May next year. It varies by country. Same case applies to Masters or Bachelors program in US Universities. The academic year starts in August and ends in May for most of the schools. Summer is optional and many students end up working in internships or in summer jobs of any kind to earn some money for school.
Most of the scholarships, Fellowships, Teaching assistantships and Research Assistantships are given to students for one academic year. It may vary for TA, RA and GAs based on the offering of classes, but most of the Scholarships and Fellowships for sure are awarded in fall for one year. What does that mean ? There will be less funding chances in Spring. One more logical thing, most of the students start their college in Fall and Graduate in Spring. From TA, RA and GAs perspective, there is a high chance of senior students graduating and you have more opportunities for funding. Fundamentally, most of the students try to continue in the regular academic year schedule that they are used to since high school unless they mess up something or take additional time or break for specific reasons.
Course Offerings Fall vs Spring :
Another important thing about course offerings in Fall and Spring. Most of the classes that are offered in Fall are pre-requisites for courses offered in Spring. Typically, class schedules are planned with a progression of starting in Fall and continuing the course work in Spring. Most of these Fall classes are offered once in an year and they have set schedules like this particular course will be in Fall and others will be only offered in Spring. If you apply for spring and come to US, you have a disadvantage in choosing your classes. You may not be following the usual University class schedule plan.
Class students’ Dynamics Fall vs Spring :
Another important thing is, the students who are in the classes that you take in Spring are one semester ahead of you if you are starting fresh in Spring. You may have the disadvantage of choosing students for group projects because students in fall would already have their group project teams select. There is no hard set rule. It is just a flexibility thing. If you know the people and team you worked with, you prefer to work with those students in rest of the class projects too.
Student Organizations and Involvement :
If you like to be part of any student organizations on campus, Fall is when most of the recruiting for the student organizations is done. Many organizations plan their activities for an academic year with events kick off starting in Fall. Also, if you plan to run for any position like President or Treasure in an organization, Elections for organizations happen typically at the end of Spring, so that new leaders are ready for fall. If you are starting in Spring, you do not know how the organizations work; people in student organization do not know you as a person; you may have hard time winning the election because of lack of network in the organization.
Campus Jobs Fall vs Spring :
Most of the on campus jobs are filled in Fall, due to the fact that most of the students leave the University by graduating in Summer or Spring. Also, new positions may be available due to expansion of any facilities that kick off in Fall.
Finding Summer Internships advantages of Fall :
Summer internships chances are more favorable for students who come to US in fall because they would have completed half of their coursework and have enough qualifications. You know your professors better and they can give you better recommendations. If you come in Fall, you get to know the system well in US, network by joining few student organizations and increase your chances for Summer internships. You will have a good resume too because you have lot of things of class work, leadership and volunteering skills you can add to make your resume stronger. Also, check Working CPT vs OPT
Weather if you plan to attend schools in Northern States:
This is not a big deal, but if you are coming from a warm country with 70 – 80 F ( 21 C to 27 Celsius), it would be a challenge to adjust to the cold temperatures in Northern states with Snow and freezing temperatures of -20 F to 20 F ( -29 C to - 6 Celsius ). This may not necessarily apply for Southern states.
Is it really so BAD or Disadvantage to come to US in Spring ?
No, not really. All the stuff said above, are the advantages of applying for Fall and stuff you may be at disadvantage in comparison. For some reason, you had to take a break or you could not come to US for fall, you should NOT waste another 7 – 8 Months of your career, just for these advantages. The goal of my explanation is for all of those who have a choice to plan ahead of time to apply for Fall and Come to US for Fall. If you miss Fall for some reason, do not worry. There are always chances and you have to work a little smarter and harder to get the opportunities.
What do you think? Fall or Spring ? Anything to add to this article ?
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