What is Waitlisted or Deferred From a College?

This article contains information on what it means to be on the college waitlist or deferred during applications and other informative tips.

After you have been subjected to the crazy work of putting together a college application, it can take a long time to wait for a response. Most applicants think they will eventually receive an email with one of two simple outcomes: that they have been offered admission or they have been rejected. But there are other possible outcomes – as if searching for a university wasn’t confusing enough!

You may be told that your application is “deferred” or “waitlisted “. What does it mean? Should I be worried? The correct answer to these questions will depend on a few factors rather than one.

Waitlists and deferrals are not the same, but there are similarities and we will discuss them before the end of this article. Bear in mind that two concepts do not mean that you have been rejected, they both mean you’ll have to wait longer to see if you’re accepted.

waitlist or deferred college applications

What Does It Mean to Be Deferred

If your application is deferred, this is a response that may possibly be given for early action or early decision for university admission. This response is somewhere between acceptance and rejection. This basically means that the admissions officers decide to re-evaluate your application with the regular applicants.

This will push your application into the regular decision applicants, your application basically changes from an early decision application to a regular application. This means that it is no longer a must that you will attend that college if you are admitted  (this can happen in an early decision).

You also won’t get definitive answers until your colleagues who applied via the regular decision pool have started receiving admission decisions, this decision is always made in March.

 Why a Student may get Deferred

The reasons students receive deferrals generally fall into two categories:

  • You applied to the Early Action or Early Decision program and were returned to the regular applicants. This can be annoying, but it also has an advantage. If you are accepted to a college/university through the regular decision is not a must that you must attend that school if you were accepted under an early decision program. You can consider offers from other schools.
  • You applied via the regular decision or you applied for a rolling admission and the college/university would like to receive more supportive documents in order to make a decision on your admission application. In almost all cases, the college or university would like to see more old grades or new test scores. If the schools get the information they need, they can accept you earlier.

Also Read: Medical Schools Admissions Requirements: All you need to get Admitted

What Does It Mean to Be Waitlisted?

But getting a waitlist message is part of normal decision-making in the admission process. This kind of response means that the school likes your application, but there is currently no room for you.

If many other students who are offered admission to the school end up not attending, then a spot can become available for you and you will end up getting admitted.

In compensation, this is not an outright denial. Instead, it means you have to wait until a decision is made.

Deferrals are usually sent out in March as they are part of the normal application decision-making process. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the waitlists, you will not receive an answer until May to see if you are on the list of admitted students.

In other words, it may mean you have to apply to another university before you hear back about whether you’re off the waitlist! In this case, if you decide to switch to the school that puts you on the waitlist, you will likely lose a security deposit.

  • To be on a college waitlist usually means that you are in some sort of ‘waiting state’. The admissions board can accept or not accept students who were out on the college waitlist. Unlike in a situation they are put on deferral, new information does not usually change the decision regarding the waitlist.
  • If you are on a waitlist, you will be able to know if the school has gone through the list of students on their waitlist recently and the number of students they accepted from the list. In some cases, your chances of being accepted are considerably high; other higher education institutions almost never accept applicants who are put on the waitlist.
  • It is always advised that if you are put on the waitlist you try and apply to another school so that you can have an option elsewhere. It is risky to put all your hope on a waitlisted college; now is the time to make a plan with one of your alternative schools.

What are the similarities between Being Waitlisted or Deferred?

Seeing yourself on the waiting list is like a regular decision, similar to an ED/EA deferral. Both deny you the feast of acceptance without offering final rejection; instead, leave the door open for a possible future acceptance.

In either case, it may be beneficial to contact the college/university in question, that is if you still want to attend the school. If you are on the waitlist, you should inform the higher education institution that you will be patient and accept your position on the waitlist.

However, after that, it may be useful to write a letter of continued interest in both cases. This shows that you’re still interested in studying in the college that has put you on the waitlist, you can remarket yourself with this opportunity, and you can convince the college that if you get admitted, you’ll add to its yield rate.

Also Read: The University of Oxford Acceptance Rate | A Comprehensive Guide

What You Need to Know if You are on the College Waitlist or Deferred List

Whether you’re on the deferral waitlist, avoid the temptation to start flooding the admissions office with letters of recommendation and phone calls. In almost all cases, this has a negative impact on admission chances.

Some institutions even state in their letters that they will not accept additional letters of recommendation or phone calls on behalf of students.

If the selection board needs additional material, it is usually interested in specific information (test scores, grades, etc.) rather than a personal reference or recommendation.

Remember that being on the waitlist or deferred does not mean that you have been denied entry. It’s like being asked to stay in the waiting room a little longer to wait for the final decision. As with all wait times, use your time wisely. Improve your grades or test scores or keep your grades up.

Make sure you have alternative plans at other schools and don’t get discouraged. Being waitlisted or deferred is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world or college application.

What to do if you are on the waitlist list or Deferred during your college application

Receiving a waitlist letter from your prospective college or a deferral letter requires that you make decisions that are organised and swift about your next steps. Colleges want to see how their waitlists and late applicants are doing, so it’s important to do something that will be advantageous to you.

Here are some tips if you’re waitlisted deferred and how to get off such a list.

Decide on the steps to take next

If you are on the waitlist, you can accept or decline your place on the waitlist. If you decline, the college will no longer consider your application, even if more places become available in the future. Know that this is a permanent resolution and can’t be changed.

If your application has been deferred to the regular applicants, take the time to review your top college choices. If you the college that deferred your application rejects you, you can apply to another college as part of your regular application cycle.

After you have been deferred, some colleges may request additional information, such as updated transcripts or other forms of materials.

Also Read: How to get into a business school: All Requirements for Business School

Choose an alternative school

Since waitlist decisions are not usually announced until after May 1st, students must choose a another college as a backup if they do not get into the school of their choice.

The best option is to choose the alternative school you want and accept the school’s offer.

If after this you are removed from the waitlist by your first choice school, you can inform the alternative schools about changes to your plans. Please note that you cannot get your deposit back if you have put down a deposit to your backup school.

If you’re being held back, you can focus on improving your application to other schools and making sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Improve your application

Applicants who are waitlisted and deferred have the opportunity to improve their application. You can retake the SAT or ACT, earn extracurricular rewards, and/or improve your GPA. Notify the application committee of any changes made to your application.

Higher education institutions want to know about waitlisted and deferred applicants’ reactions to their current situation. Maintaining or improving your grades can make you a more attractive candidate.

If admission is deferred, the admissions committee will process your application for re-evaluation at a later date. Universities often compare the student’s most recent grades with the grades on the Early Decision transcript.

Therefore, your grades should remain stable or improve. Not having a GPA that has improved or slipped will reduce your chances of being accepted or removed from the college waitlist.

Write a letter of continued interest

Once you’ve been waitlisted or deferred, take the time to write a letter to the admissions office stating your intention to attend the school if you’re ultimately accepted.

Try to mention things you studied or did recently, like getting a higher SAT score or winning an award at school.

A letter of continued interest or even an email or phone call shows admissions counsellors that you are serious about their institution. It puts you in the spotlight and puts you in a relationship with the university.

Check the status of your application

It is important to maintain open communication between you and the school where you are waitlisted or deferred.

Don’t be afraid to contact colleges to find out how your application is progressing during the admissions period. Read more about the next application review and ask if you can provide additional steps or documents.”

Schools focus on students who check in regularly and stay current on their applications. This emphasizes determination and dedication – both valuable qualities in a candidate.

Be patient

Remember that the final decision on whether or not you will be admitted to the school is made by the school.

In some years, many applicants may be removed from the waiting list. In other years there are few or none. Whatever happens, students must prepare for any outcome and be proud of their achievements.

When a student is waitlisted by a college, people often choose to shut down rather than take the opportunity to understand why they’re waitlisted. Students often stop responding to phone calls, emails and/or texts and may miss important information the school is trying to communicate to them.

Frequently asked questions about college waitlist and deferrals

Below are some of the questions and answers about the college waitlist and deferrals that will provide you with more information on this topic.

How long does it take to get off the college waitlist?

When you are on the waitlist, there is no set deadline for receiving responses. It may take weeks or months before you receive a formal admission or denial. Secondary schools can accept you from the waitlist when a place becomes available, or wait until the national decision day on 1 May.

You may not hear from the university about your waitlist until a few weeks before the start of the fall semester.

What are the typical probabilities of getting accepted from the college waitlist?

The 2019 NACAC College Admissions Report found that 20 percent of first-year applicants were removed from the waitlist and accepted. Some colleges even publish their waitlist statistics on their websites.

Can you be put on a waitlist for an early decision?

No. If you have applied for an early decision or early action, you will be rejected or the college can defer your application. College application deferral means that the application board processes your application together with the regular.

If your application is deferred during the early decision, your application may remain on the waitlist during the normal application round.



  • https://collegesofdistinction.com/
  • https://www.bestcolleges.com/
  • https://empowerly.com/blog/
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like