What Does Deferment Mean for Your College Acceptance?

After you send off all your highly-polished college applications, you will receive one of four answers from schools where you applied. The first two possibilities are straightforward — accepted or denied. The next two options are less clear — deferment or waitlist. These options are not a “yes” or a “no,” they’re more of a “maybe.” There are also differences between a college deferment and being put on a school’s waitlist.

Deferment vs. Waitlist

Deferment means the college has not completed its review of your file and is “deferring” their decision to a later date. They most likely want more information, like mid-year grades or additional test scores.

Deferrals often happen to students who have applied early decision (ED) or early action (EA). When a college defers these students it usually means their applications have been moved to the regular decision (RD) application pool. If you applied ED, your admission will no longer be binding. You are free to consider other schools, even if you’re accepted by a school that initially sent you a deferral.

Being waitlisted means the college has completely reviewed your file and made the decision to put you on the waitlist. Students who are placed on the waitlist could still be considered if enough students that were accepted choose not to attend the college. Unlike a deferral, new information generally does not change the waitlist decision.

I Have Been Deferred, Now What?

A deferral means the college admissions office will take another look at your application and give you a definitive “yes” or “no,” down the road. That’s not what an excited high school senior wants to hear. You want to start buying college sweatshirts and finding a roommate. Take a deep breath and remember that some wise admissions officer was sufficiently impressed with your application to want to review it a second time. All hope is not lost.

Read your deferment letter carefully. You may be asked to submit additional information for the admissions office to consider. They may want to see your senior year grades, additional test scores, recommendations, or other information.

If the admissions office is open to receiving new information, don’t be afraid to humble-brag about a new award or achievement that happened after you submitted the original application. You don’t want to flood them with calls and emails, but a respectful and well-written letter may tip the scales in your favor.

Each school handles deferment in a different way, and many don’t make deferment statistics public. It’s difficult to know your chances of finally being admitted, so do everything you can to help the college decide to send you that college acceptance letter.

After you submit any new information, it’s time to take another look at all your college options.

Do I Need a Backup Plan?

First, determine whether the college that deferred you is still your top choice. It’s been a few months since you submitted the application. Are you having mixed feelings now that you’ve been deferred? Is there another school that may be a better fit?

Second, check over your list of colleges to make sure you have a few second-choice options, including schools where you have a very good chance of being accepted. The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) has free online tools to help you apply to colleges, track your applications, submit transcripts, and apply for financial aid. CFNC’s college search feature can help students find other colleges to which they can apply based on their test scores, GPA, and more.

Continue exploring your options and making backup plans. That way, you will be prepared for the next stage in your educational career, no matter what happens.

College Application Waiting Game – Round Two

Unfortunately, a college deferment means you’re adding on more weeks of waiting anxiety. Don’t panic or give up hope. Also remember that the College Redirection Pool is available to connect students with colleges that have open admissions slots, so you still have options. Keeping a positive attitude will help you see the future clearly and choose the right college for you.