The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) posts a list of universities still accepting applications annually. This year the number of colleges that have open seats for students, even after the typical May 1st deadline, is currently 536.This list is curated from self-reporting from each university; it is not a requirement for universities to share this information with NACAC, meaning this list does not fully reflect the possibilities of other United States universities that still may have room for more students. This list also includes colleges that have rolling admissions; these colleges accept students throughout the year. While enrollment has been down, a large part due to the lasting effects of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy, the number of colleges with open seats is less than it was in 2020. Many higher education institutions and schools will be returning to in-person learning this fall. The decrease of open seats, this summer compared to the previous summer, signals more certainty for students, parents, and university administrations. College admission teams are still working to adapt to the monumental changes to their recruitment practices. This was seen in the shift to virtual visits, and unique admissions events at high schools to counteract the possibility of students deciding to forgo college due to the far-reaching effects of the world health crisis. Admissions counselors are doing their best to accommodate students, yet this struggle gives students an advantage.If you have not decided on a college to attend this fall, here is how you can benefit from the current availability of open seats at colleges:
- Ask the college you are interested in for more financial aid. If the cost of college has you on the fence about attending college in August, ask for more financial help. Unfortunately, many students and parents believe the first financial aid package or financial aid offer from a college is the only option. This is not true—you can appeal your financial aid award package. You do have the freedom to express your financial concerns and limitations with a college’s financial aid office. Most financial aid offices will work with you to find more financial aid options and help by adjusting your original financial aid award package. Colleges want all seats to be filled, and they do not want finances to be the reason you decide not to go to school there.
- Look at colleges that had originally wait-listed you. Check out the list of colleges that had waitlisted you earlier. It is possible the students that committed to going to this school have changed their plans. They may have more availability for students and are looking for students to fill these seats. If you can be admitted as a student, be sure to discuss the financial aid package they provide you. Even if you were waitlisted and now enrolling as a student, you can still ask questions about financial aid from this college.
- Continue to apply for scholarships. Some students feel like they only need to apply for scholarships as high school students and stop applying once they’ve graduated. This is a huge mistake. Students should apply for scholarships not just in high school, but throughout all school years—from high school through college, and even grad school. Goal setting is the secret to making applying for scholarships a habit. Do yourself a favor by establishing a weekly or monthly scholarship application goal. You can make it easier by applying for quick and easy scholarships; many of these you can apply for in less than two minutes. Setting scholarship goals gives you something to work toward. Be sure to set high expectations for yourself, but not unrealistic goals. It’s okay to adjust this to fit busier seasons of your student life.