What Does Admissions Deferral Mean?

Schools have the option of deferring their admissions decision on an Early Action or Early Decision applicant until they’ve had a chance to compare the student to Regular Decision applicants. This is typically referred to as admission deferral.

What Is a Deferral?

A school will only defer your application if you applied for Early Action or Early Decision. When a school defers you, they are not rejecting you. Instead, they are taking more time to consider your application against the regular application pool. You will receive a new admission decision when the school contacts regular decision applicants.

A deferral should not be confused with being wait-listed. Wait-listed students meet the school’s admissions requirements, but the school has already accepted its maximum amount of new students. Schools will formally accept a waitlisted student when a spot is available.

Remember: the admission team liked your application enough to want to look at it again. However, deferral can be a stressful outcome when you were hoping for early acceptance.

What should you do in the meantime?

Keep Up With Your Application

When your application is deferred, the school might contact you for more information. Send mid-year grades and transcripts when the school asks for them. Make sure your application is updated, and consider sending in another letter of recommendation from a teacher who can speak well of your skills and academic prowess.

Contact Your School

Submitting a follow-up letter to be included in your application is a good way of showing the admissions committee you still want to attend their school. Reiterate why you wish to attend the school, and let them know what positive steps you’ve taken since you initially submitted your application.

A good tip is to remain upbeat in your letter. Don’t be argumentative or critical of their decision.

Apply to Other Schools

When you apply for Early Decision, you’re obligated to attend that school if you get accepted. However, the deferral of your early decision application frees you from that obligation. Even if your deferred application gets accepted, you can choose another school that offers you better financial aid, for example.

Now is the time to get serious about other schools. If you haven’t already done so, apply to the other schools on your list. If you’ve already applied, make sure that those schools have all the application materials they need.

Reevaluate Your Decision

Even if you applied Early Decision and not Early Action, you are no longer legally obligated to the school once you’ve been deferred. You can choose not to attend even if they accept you during the regular decision process.

A lot can change as you start focusing on other schools. Maybe they offer programs you didn’t realize they had, or maybe some of your priorities have changed. Take the time to make sure that your early application school is still the school you wish to attend.