College This Fall? It's Not Too Late

For many high school students, the college admission season ended May 1, national college decision day. All those caught up in the anxiety-producing admissions frenzy must believe there's no alternative.

I know differently, both as a college president and as a student.

For me, the admissions season was the humid, hot summer of 1973. I was admitted to Duke University in August of that year and left only one week later for a campus I had never seen.

It wasn't my grades that kept me from applying earlier; I graduated third in my class. Nor was it because I was from the wrong high school. Nearly two-dozen of my high school classmates went off to the same school I eventually attended.

Perhaps it was because I was only the second in my family to attend college, and, as a first generation college-goer, did not understand what was happening? Perhaps because I needed financial aid? That I was rejected elsewhere, and didn't want to attend my 'safety school'?

I refuse to consider that it might have been the fear and anxiety behind college applications or the procrastination that still features in my survival strategies in the face of difficult choices.

Looking back, I can imagine more reasons now than I could then for why it was August before I was admitted to what is now my alma mater. I know more, for example, about how colleges craft their entering classes and the realities of their decisions. But, still, I do not know why I was admitted to college in August to start i... August.

I do, though, know this: I was an August admit and there are others out there who will be as well, even now, decades later. When they reach the time of their 40th high school reunion, as I did not long ago, I hope that like me, they look back thinking of late admission not as a regret but as an enormous victory.

That August so long ago, I had no idea what doors would open to me because of the phone call inviting me to campus just a week later. They took a chance on me and I am the better for it. I now carry a responsibility to those students out there today, well after the so-called decision date of May 1, when all over the country some high school students were feted for the places they chose while others quietly worried about what they would do this coming fall.

Some will work. Some will head for City Year or similar programs. Some will take a gap year. Some, though, will go to one of the hundreds of colleges that offer - as mine does - "rolling admissions." There are no deadlines; we accept applications all year long for the next semester. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling's College Openings Update, more than 450 U.S. colleges are still accepting students for Fall 2016.

So, no matter your reasons, it's not too late, procrastinators. Our doors are still open to you.