Dealing with Waitlists and Deferrals

March 16, 2016

Colleges turn to giving you a Deferral or a Waitlist decision due to some level of uncertainty about your application. Three main uncertainties drive these decisions.

1. Broad Uncertainty

The admissions team may not yet knowing enough about their application pool to understand how you compare to their other applicants. This scenario tends to result in Deferral Decisions for students who apply earlier in the academic year. A Deferral in this instance tends to imply that the admissions team wants to compare your application to other later applicants.

2. Applicant Numbers

Colleges have a very tough job of trying to predict how many of their admitted students will choose to enroll. Oftentimes, colleges offer a place on the Waitlist to many students. Having this Waitlist gives the college the ability to admit more students if a smaller-than-expected pool of admitted students choose to enroll.

3. Academic Performance

Lastly, some Admissions Team members may determine that they cannot make a decision on your application until you can provide more grades from your senior year. There really isn’t much that can be done about this, it’s just the case with some institutions.

Whether you are Deferred or Waitlisted, it is always best for you to evaluate whether that decision changes how you feel about that college. Some students get turned off by these decisions; others make it their mission to try to gain admission after receiving one of these decisions.

What can I do about it?

First, return any forms that the Admissions Team sent you to make plain that you remain interested in the college.

Second, contact the Admissions Team to express your interest and clarify what additional materials might strengthen your application. Make sure you submit all appropriate materials in a timely fashion. In contacting the office, you should also clarify the timelines for their decision making process if it is not already clear to you.

Lastly, stay in touch with your Admissions representative. I’d recommend contacting that person once a month. And in doing so, you should mention your ongoing and strong interest in the college as well as any other new accomplishments/grades that strengthen your application.

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