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posted: 12/18/2013 1:20 PM

New year right time for new start at college

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The popular scene depicted in films, television shows and college marketing materials of the first weeks of college always seem to feature a green, vibrant campus complete with fall foliage.

Students laugh and gather outside, maybe tossing a Frisbee or studying by a lake.

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That is a fairly accurate description of the start of fall classes at Waubonsee Community College and institutions throughout the nation.

However, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center paints a different picture for the one in four new college students who instead choose to begin their higher education journey in January. These new students are more likely to bundle up to build a snowman than play Frisbee, but no matter when you start your college education, the final destination is the same.

While starting college in the fall makes sense for many students coming directly from high school, there are distinct advantages to beginning in the spring semester. Many high-demand introductory courses have lower enrollment and increased availability. Starting in January can also mean that you've saved up enough to completely pay for your classes if you attend a community college.

January is a great opportunity for the nontraditional student to take his or her first steps toward a degree as well. With fewer new students starting at once there is greater opportunity for personalized attention. While the spring semester always seems to end in a flurry of activities that includes graduation ceremonies, the start of the semester isn't as hectic as it can be in the fall. At Waubonsee, we have the same student focus in January as we do in August and September. That means you'll still have the opportunity to learn about student clubs, participate in extracurricular activities and experience our vibrant student life.

Our students who are also parents typically find that their children's activities are less intense in January than in September when the local K-12 schools are starting their new year. This makes for a less stressful time to adjust to the academic environment -- especially if a student hasn't been in school for some time.

Every new year is an opportunity to evaluate your past and look forward to the future. Many years, this might mean exercising, stopping smoking or embarking on a new career. This year, consider the doors that can open by earning a degree or certificate. An admissions adviser is available to help students see how easy it is to get started.

Waubonsee serves an amazing diversity of students with amazing dreams. Now is the perfect time to make those dreams a reality.

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