What does it mean to be Waitlisted verses Deferred?

Being deferred typically arises in the case of Early decision or Early Action applications. After reviewing your early application, the college may decide that while it considers you to be a competitive applicant, they would like to review your application again once they have received all their application submissions including those in the regular rounds. Hence, your application will be reviewed again later and the decision on your admission will be available along with other regular decision applications – in the case of most USA colleges, this means late to end March. The upside of a deferral is that it automatically releases you from the ED bind – in the event of getting admission to the college that you were deferred from, you are no longer bound by ED rules and can treat the admission as a regular one.

Being Waitlisted is unlike being deferred; the college has finished reviewing your application and has decided to put you on a waiting list for admission. Waitlists are usually announced during March when most colleges release their decisions.

If you find yourself on a waitlist, think of it as being on a “hold list” that the college will admit students from in the event that they have open seats. The admissions committee may or may not admit students from the waitlist and you can look up historical data to check if the college has gone on to admit students from their waitlist in the past. If you are waitlisted at a college that is your top choice, it is wise to deposit your initial fee to another institution to have a back-up situation in case the waitlist does not go through.

Whether you have been deferred or waitlisted, constant calls and flooding the institutions with email or letters and unnecessary information is not recommended. If there is a change or some new concrete information with respect to grades, awards, activities or test scores, it is that information that might help and therefore you must forward to them.

Remember that if you are waitlisted or deferred, you have NOT been denied admission. It is like being put on hold and asked to wait. During this period, do not let anxiety get the better of you and use the time to figure out your other options, better your scores and consistently maintain your academic performance! Being waitlisted or deferred is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world, or of your college search.

Contributed by Devanshi Dabriwal

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