How to Use the College Openings Update

Each year, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (or NACAC) publishes a list of colleges whose freshman classes are not yet filled for the coming fall term. This list, called the College Openings Update, can be extremely helpful for students who applied to a limited number of schools or who did not receive any offers of admission. Here are several questions to keep in mind as you use the College Openings Update:

1. Which schools appear in the database?

The colleges that appear in the database are located abroad and in the United States. NACAC contacts its member institutions, and those that respond to its query about space availability are listed on the College Openings Update. Participation in the College Openings Update is voluntary, which you will want to keep in mind as you browse the list. Over the past 11 years, the number of schools on the list has ranged between 210 and 375. In addition, most of the colleges are four-year institutions, but there are also a small number of two-year schools represented.

2. What kind of information is offered, and for how long?

As you use the College Openings Update, you might wonder, “What type of information is available?” For each college, the following information is provided: location, whether there are open seats for freshmen and transfer students, whether the school is public or private, the approximate class enrollment size, financial aid and housing availability, and contact information. This list is posted in early May following the May 1 national response deadline, and it remains online until June 30. If you are interested in a college on the list, follow up with the school itself, as it may or may not continually update its information on the NACAC website.

3. How do I apply to a college on the list?

The application process post-May 1 will vary from school to school. If you would like to apply to a given institution, contact the college first – visit the school’s website, or call the admissions office. You will likely receive more specifics on how and when to proceed. Be prepared with all of your documents, like recommendation letters and transcripts, so that you will be able to act quickly. Speed is key when applying after May 1, as is communication with the college.

4. When should I wait until the next admissions season to apply?

Consider the following if you are deciding whether or not to wait until next year to apply to college – are you interested in the schools with open seats, keeping in mind that no college is a completely perfect fit? Do you feel that your application is strong, or would you like to take some time to work on it? Can you benefit from a gap year? Talk these points over with trusted adults in your life, like your guidance counselor, teachers, parents, or consider enlisting the help of a college tutor. Here are 5 must do steps before you submit your college application that can also help point you in the right direction.

The NACAC College Openings Update can be a valuable tool if you need to apply to college after the May 1 deadline. There are numerous schools that may not have been your first choice at the beginning of the year, but they still have many of the attributes that you are looking for in a college. These college application process tips may also be helpful to you! Keep an open mind, consider the above tips for how to use the College Openings Update, and do not give up as you near the end of the college admissions process!