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Is the following expression common among native speakers:

If you don't enroll now, there is a chance of losing the semester.

Any better alternative?

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No, it's not exactly common, but it would be clear in context. There are alternatives, but none that can be judged objectively better. –  Robusto Sep 4 '12 at 15:07
    
The idiom missed the boat is often used generically (in other words, "If you don't enroll now, you may miss the boat" might work, even if there's no real boat to catch). But I wouldn't recommend using that unless the specific repercussions are spelled out somewhere else, like in a nearby paragraph or something. –  J.R. Sep 4 '12 at 16:24
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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Cameron, tchrist, Robusto Sep 4 '12 at 17:51

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It is understandable to US English speakers. Whether there is a better alternative depends on what you are trying to convey.

The word losing has a distinctly negative connotation in this context. In general, people do not like to lose things because it usually suggests loss of control.

to no longer have something, because it has been taken away from you, either by accident or purposely

There are a exceptions, such as deliberately losing weight or the expression lose the attitude, both of which would be considered beneficial. These really constitute a different meaning for losing.

to have less of something, esp. in the body

You could substitute the term missing, which would probably be considered less negative, but it still has a slightly disapponted tone.

to fail to do, see, or experience something, esp. something planned or expected when it is available

If you wish to convey a more neutral meaning, you could use a phrase such as "the signup date will have passed." However, the introductory phrase, "If you don't enroll now" seems to have an admonishing tone in itself.

If you wanted to be totally neutral, you could say "You must enroll today to be eligible to attend this semester." Any use of "If you do not" or a similar phrase is likely to be perceived as at least somewhat negative, or as a warning prescriptive.

If that is the intent, you are fine.

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UK: If you don't enrol now, there is a chance of missing the term. –  Andrew Leach Sep 4 '12 at 15:56
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The meaning here is really that the person will be behind schedule for graduation by one semester. You could express that by saying "I will be behind my graduating class by a semester." Certainly more verbose than "losing a semester," but also much clearer for a non-native speaker.

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