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Articles / Applying to College / Help for Girlfriend Reapplying to College After Hiatus

Help for Girlfriend Reapplying to College After Hiatus

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | June 10, 2013

Question: My girlfriend was accepted to many different colleges, coming out of high school, going into the fall 2011 semester. She finally decided on one college and was all setup up to go, but she couldn’t afford the price of the dorms so she ended up not going. She tried attending the local junior college for a semester but didn’t like it and ended up dropping her classes. She has been working the whole time since high school and now has money saved up. How does she go about reapplying to a university?

If your girlfriend did not complete even one semester at the JC, she would reapply to college as a freshman, but she still must list the junior college on her application. She should explain to admission officials why she attended only briefly and then left, along with what she has been doing since. (If there’s no obvious place to include this, she can send a separate letter by email to each college she applies to or she can look for an “Additional Information” section on her applications.)

If your girlfriend earned SOME credit from the community college, she may have to apply as a transfer, but this will depend on both the amount of credit she earned and on the policies at the colleges on her list. (She might have to contact each one individually to find out if she should apply as a freshman or as a transfer, if she’s not sure. And these policies can vary from college to college.)

Whether she is applying as a freshman or a transfer, her applications will ask her if she ever previously applied to this college. If the answer is yes, then she must say so. She can also contact those colleges to which she previously applied to ask if she needs to re-send her transcript and test scores or if they still have that information on file.

SAT and ACT scores are good for five years. So if your girlfriend took these tests within that time frame, she does not need to take them again.

Applying to college after a break of a couple years really isn’t much different than applying straight from high school except that colleges will want to know what the applicant has been doing with the time since high school graduation. So, as I noted above, your girlfriend must explain what she has been up to. She should be sure include her short stint in the junior college and why she left as well as her job history and any other worthwhile pursuits she’s been involved with (sports, hobbies, family activities, volunteering, etc.). She will probably have to submit new teacher references, too, which might be a little tricky since she’s not in school right now. The colleges that she applied to two years ago probably did not save her old references, but she can ask if they did and, if so, if these will suffice.

It is likely that any college that accepted her previously will admit her again once she’s shown that she has spent this time earning money to afford college. She may also want to expand her college list so that it includes schools that could provide enough financial aid to make dorm life affordable, if she still would prefer to live in a dorm.

As your girlfriend goes through this process, she might find it a bit daunting. It’s daunting for almost everyone but perhaps more so for those who are not in school. So she shouldn’t hesitate to phone or email admission offices directly if she’s confused and needs assistance.

Good luck to her!


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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