Fall or Spring Start?

F1 Student

A big decision F1 students need to make is the decision on whether to start in Spring or Fall semester. Spring starts in the last week of January and ends Mid of May. Even though they say it is spring start and imply there is a spring break, the weather is dead cold and there is abundant snow (I am referring to Northeast places like NY and New Jersey).  It starts getting warm around April when the semester is almost ending.

Fall start semester period is between Sept 1st week and ends Mid of December. The weather is pleasant but of course it starts getting cold by November, but this cold is bearable than the cold that happens around February.

I for one started in Spring but wished I started in Fall for the following reasons.

  1. The weather is cold and damp around Spring start and getting used to weather while trying to acclimatize to USA and studying is just a bit too much. It might be overwhelming and trying to move in and get things done around this semester can be tough on you. During Fall start, the weather is more favourable  and one can move around a bit, meet people, and makes it easier to go for classes. Simply said, you already have the task of getting used to a new country, a new method of teaching and assignments, etc. Do you really want to put yourself through cold weather? If you can handle it, great! If not, better think about Fall start.
  2. I would also advise Fall start because in Spring (when it actually still winter) semester, you will feel tempted to take an online class to stay warm. I would say, don’t do that in your first semester. Take on campus class to get the hang of studying in the USA. In the second semester, it doesn’t matter that much. You will be in better place in terms of understanding coursework to take an online class.
  3. From CPT (curricular practical training/ internship) point of view, if your start in Fall, the following summer you can actually do your internship.  You have to stay in legal status as student for one year before you can do your internship. If you start in spring, you will not be eligible to do your internship the immediate summer.

If you start in Spring

  • Spring start – 1st Semester
  • Summer – Can’t intern because you have not done 2 semester yet.
  • Fall – 2nd Semester
  • Spring – 3rd Semester
  • Summer you can do Internship
  • Fall – 4th Semester

You can study through your first summer or not, it’s your choice. Here are your scenario for Spring start:

If you start in Fall

  • Fall – 1st semester
  • Spring – 2nd semester
  • Summer – you can do your internship since you have completed one academic year
  • Fall – 3rd semester

If you plan this well, you can graduate in the third semester itself. Depending on the credits you need to graduate, take a class in summer along with internship. Summer classes are also easier in my opinion.

Here is a look at a 36 credit graduate course:

  • Fall – 1st semester (9 credits)
  • Spring – 2nd semester (9 credits)
  • Summer – you can do your internship since you have completed one academic year (6 internship credits + 3 course credits)
  • Fall – 3rd semester (9 credits)

Viola you are done! It was also a lighter on my term bill because summer does not have campus fee and other fees lightening the load by at least by 1000 dollars.

So there you go, Fall start is better! Obviously whatever I have shared with you is just the base idea that might work for you.  This is my experience I am sharing a graduate Communication student in a school based out of New Jersey.

There are rules and exception to every course and it will depend on what classes you want to pursue and what classes are available, so on. Nevertheless, hope there was some insights you could take from here. Good luck with your education!

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