Waitlisted: Guide To Delay Acceptance Programs

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Once you’ve finally submitted all your college applications, the waiting game can unfortunately be a very frustrating process. To add to the difficulty, you may receive an unclear answer from some colleges, like a delayed acceptance program, such as a waitlist or deferral. Being waitlisted versus being deferred by a university are only similar in the sense that you will have to wait longer to receive their final decision – otherwise, the two processes are very different.  

Waitlist Programs

If you find out that you’ve been placed on a university’s waitlist, it means the university has reviewed your application but hasn’t decided to immediately accept you – essentially, you’re on a “holding-list” for acceptances.

  • While most colleges won’t consider new information in your waitlist decision, you should still make sure to keep your application updated
  • You can research the waitlist acceptance rate at your university to get a better idea of what your chances may be
  • DO NOT depend on a university you’ve been placed on a waitlist for – it’s important to create a backup option and make any necessary deposits 
    • Waitlists are usually used by universities to keep a backup of potential students, so that they can make up for admitted students who decide not to enroll

Admission Deferrals

A deferral means that your application has not been fully reviewed yet, and the admissions counselors have delayed their decision. 

  • If you submitted your application through Early Action or Early Decision, then your application has been bumped into the regular pool of applicants 
    • This is usually done if the admissions counselors feel they need to compare your application against a wider pool of applicants before making a decision
    • Can be advantageous since the deferral allows you to consider other schools instead of binding you to an Early Decision school (this is not the case with Early Action)
  • If you submitted your application during the regular decision timeframe, the admissions committee probably requires more information to make a decision
    • This can be in the form of senior year grades, other recommendation letters, and more
    • Make sure to contact the school for more information on supplementary materials that could aid your deferral decision
  • You should still make sure to have a backup option if the deferral doesn’t turn into an acceptance

Deferred Enrollment

Deferred enrollment allows you to attend a university you’ve been accepted to, but at a later date, usually after a semester or year. 

  • Deferred enrollment, also called gap semester/year, can be useful because they give you more time to explore your interests, work, or travel, to name a few
  • Not all universities accept deferment requests, nor do they have the same policies, so make sure to check your college’s website or talk to a staff member
    • In order to request a deferral, you will most likely have to submit a letter stating the intent behind your request, and have it signed by a college dean or other official
    • Send your letters between April and June – the sooner the better 
  • Remember that any financial aid may not carry over the gap semester or year

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