Academics

Deferral From Your Top School Isn’t the End of the World

School Deferral

As schools’ admissions offices turn from Early Action or Early Decision candidates to the rolling admissions period, you might find yourself starting to dread the pile of mail on the counter when you get home from school.

Particularly the regular-sized letters from schools.

Nothing good ever comes from business-size envelopes from schools.

But, as the admissions experts at Admitster recently wrote, it’s also not always something bad, either. Here’s their take on deferral from your top choice school, and how you can handle it.

Deferral From Your Top-Choice School–What?!

It’s December 19th and if you applied early to your top-choice school then you’ve now likely heard back about whether you’ve been accepted (congratulations!), deferred (read on), or rejected (don’t despair!). If you’ve been deferred, it doesn’t mean that your application has now been thrown in the bin but that your application to the school will be considered again within the context of the regular admissions applicant pool. That is, there is still hope for an offer of acceptance! A deferral, however, also means that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs into that one college’s basket. You have work to do on refining your college list and ensuring that you submit all of your regular and rolling admissions applications on time. In other words, this chapter in your life is not yet closed and your college admissions puzzle is not yet complete!

A few things to know:

  • As is always the case in college admissions, don’t take a deferral (or rejection) personally. Remember, this process is, to some extent, “an unpredictable crapshoot”!
  • Officials in admissions offices across the country are working to build a well-balanced class and are out to find good fits for their school. I recommend that you see being deferred as an opportunity for the college to learn more about you, helping them to determine whether you would be an asset to their incoming class.
  • Deferral rates vary greatly by school so depending on where you applied you may have left the starting gate with an excellent chance of being deferred, regardless of the quality of your application. For instance, articles from The Huffington Post and IvyWise tell us that:
    • Georgetown University defers all of the applicants who aren’t accepted in the early round.
    • Over 70% of the applicants who applied early to Harvard were deferred to the regular admissions round.
    • Likewise, at MIT over 65% of the early applicants were deferred.
    • Amherst College deferred nearly 40% of its early applying applicants.
    • Northwestern University only defers around 1-2% of its applicants.
  • Remember, college admissions is a two-way street! If the college will accept it, you can write a deferral letter reaffirming your enthusiasm for the school and also letting them know about any accomplishments, including your first semester grades, that your parents are writing to family and friends about in this year’s holiday card. However, be sure to follow the school’s instructions following a deferral, in terms of further information they expect to receive from you and/or boosts to your application that they’re willing to accept, e.g. additional letters of recommendation. Also, keep in mind that your social media presence is a great way to let colleges know of your continued interest in them!

A deferral is not a rejection, after all. You may yet be admitted to your top-choice college. However, try to keep yourself open to other opportunities at other schools as well – ensure that your college list is full of great options for you in terms of good fit. Finally, and as ever, know that we’re here to help if you need or would like any additional admissions guidance and/or support. Just e-mail us at “expert@admitster.com” or click here for more information!


Remember, too, that NCSA Athletic Recruiting has specific tools for seniors to help them through the accelerated recruiting process. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.