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Need a Plan B for college? There are options

By Lee Bierer Correspondent
Lee Bierer
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte.

Let’s just say Plan A didn’t work out so well; you and your student were surprised by a few of the rejection letters.

Hopefully you planned well and had a few solid safeties on the list, but maybe now, several months later, they are not looking quite so attractive. Do not despair, there is hope, there is a Plan B.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has created its annual College Openings Update. And as of May 17, more than 450 public and private colleges still had openings.

The Update lists not only which colleges have openings for freshmen and transfer students but also has an update on housing availability and financial aid opportunities. The list is updated frequently and will be available until June 30. Vist www.nacacnet.org and type in College Openings Update in the search box.

Colleges with openings in North Carolina are Appalachian State, Chowan, Guilford, Johnson C. Smith, Lenoir-Rhyne, Montreat, Pfeiffer, Queens, St. Andrews, UNC Pembroke, Warren Wilson and William Peace.

Colleges with opening in South Carolina include Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Erskine, Limestone and Newberry College.

There definitely are options available to the resourceful family. Joyce E. Smith, Chief Executive Officer of NACAC said: “Part of demystifying college admission is understanding that, for many institutions, the application process is a year-round endeavor. Some colleges accept applications throughout the year, while others may continue to have openings available even after the May 1 national response deadline.”

You might be surprised to see some of the public and private colleges and universities on the list, including Sarah Lawrence, Arizona State, Gonzaga, Ohio Wesleyan and the University of Vermont.

Just because there are openings doesn’t automatically mean an acceptance letter is guaranteed. Students still need to apply and take the time to prepare a compelling application and send all support materials, including transcripts, test scores and letters of recommendation.

After reviewing the list, students should contact schools of interest to find out deadlines and timelines and get details on their specific procedures to apply.

What if even this Plan B is not looking too optimistic?

If students and families can’t find a good match on the College Openings Update, they might want to consider taking a gap year. Investigate some possibilities at www.americangap.org

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com.
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