When a student applies to a college, they expect either a yes (admitted) or no (denied). However, sometimes they get a maybe (deferred) or maybe soon (waitlisted). In addition to these options are a few "yes, but..." scenarios.
Yes, but... Scenario #1: The Spring admit:
Many colleges, including USC, Rochester, Brandeis, Middlebury, Maryland, Cornell, Miami and Colorado College will accept a student, but... the fine print says they must begin at the college in January (ie spring semester). Why do colleges make this offer to some students? Every school knows that they will have empty dorm room beds in the spring because many students will study abroad in the spring (or drop out or transfer). Empty beds = less tuition and room revenue, so spring admission is a way to fill every available bed and maximize revenue. Also, the students starting in the spring were probably not the strongest students in the applicant pool, and their statistics won't be counted with the starting fall freshman class. However, many students take advantage of this offer since the school was probably a "reach" school for them.
Yes, but... Scenario #2: Freshman semester (or year) abroad:
Some colleges, including Northeastern, Syracuse, NYU, Skidmore, and Boston U. have found a more profitable solution to the spring semester empty bed problem. At these schools, students may be admitted if... they study abroad their first semester or year. At Northeastern, the NU In (Northeastern U International program) is huge, sending some 700 freshmen students abroad for the fall semester of freshman year. This way, they fill the empty beds in January, and Northeastern still collects tuition from the families for the fall semester. A BU program has students start in January, but then they must spend a summer semester in London with BU to catch up to the traditional freshmen students. These programs scare families at first, but a semester abroad can be a nice break for students tired of the high school grind before starting a traditional college semester.
These yes, but... options offered at some colleges are worth considering, since they often benefit both the student and the school. Let's talk about whether these options are right for your student.