Less Colleges Deferring Applicants

December 20, 2011

Worried college applicant checking mailAs many of the nation's colleges and universities announce the acceptance rates of students who applied through this year's early admissions, it appears that more schools are choosing to reject students rather than defer their admissions.

According to The Daily Beast, more schools are moving away from deferring applicants who do not get accepted in the early round, and instead rejecting them. For example, Vanderbilt University, which accepted one-third of its 1,769 early applicants this year, did not defer any. Northwestern University, meanwhile, deferred just over 1 percent of its 2,450 applicants, while it accepted 33 percent.

"We don't want to give them false hope," said one admissions dean who was quoted by The Daily Beast.

Mike Muska, the dean of college relations at Brooklyn's Poly Prep, saw the trend as a positive one. "For college counselors, a denial from these schools can help us counsel our students about how to look at other schools where they will have a competitive chance," he told The Daily Beast. "Kids should not waste time on applications to places which will view them in the same light that the college that just denied them did. The rejection is a very useful piece of feedback; certainly not pleasant but useful. And the reality is that most schools take less than 10 percent of those they defer."

To be sure, deferrals are rarely seen as good news. An article in College Confidential referred to deferrals as "the purgatory of Early Decision and Early Action college admissions. You're not in, but you're not out. You're just hanging there, waiting for the April decision-shoe to fall. It's exquisite anguish."

Nevertheless, many schools still defer a large number of applicants: Brown, for example, deferred 2,000 of its 2,900 applicants this year. And some college counselors say that a deferred applicant should not give up hope of being admitted.

"Many students have told me they would much rather get a rejection than a deferral," wrote Purvi S. Mody, co-owner of the educational consulting firm Insight Education, in Mercury News. "In my opinion, a deferral is the best second choice. It means there is still a chance of getting in--how great that chance is depends on many factors."

She suggested several strategies for improving one's chances of being admitted. For example, she advised deferred applicants to maintain the level of academics shown in grades 9-11 as well as involvement in extracurricular activities. She also recommended writing a letter to the college with any additional information such as new standardized test scores, awards, or interests.

"I know that this process is emotionally harrowing and can affect a student's confidence," Mody wrote. Deferred applicants, she said, simply have to wait.

Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman


"College Admissions: Dealing With Deferrals," collegeconfidential.com

"College Early Admission is Tougher Than Ever," thedailybeast.com, December 19, 2011, Steve Cohen

"On College: Decision Deferred Means Door to College is Still Open," mercurynews.com, December 19, 2011, Purvi S. Mody

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