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Friday, January 27, 2017

Deferred from #UVA21 Early Action? Read This.

Being deferred is tough. I still remember the feeling of limbo that I got when I was deferred in high school. The wait was so long and it suddenly got longer. Back then, we didn't have the internet and schools didn't provide you with much data beyond what was in the view book you got in the mail after taking the SAT. Today, I'm glad we can communicate with our students so they understand some of the reasons why we might defer a student.

There can be many reasons for deferring a student, but in my experience, two cases are most common:

1. The Big Senior Program

Many schools allow students to have more control over course selection as they advance. Senior year is often the year with the most freedom and many students go for the big finale. This is awesome! Senior year should be the finale to your high school career. Your transition to college is going to be smoother when the leap to college-level work isn't a huge one, so a strong senior program is smart.

When we see a student with a wonderful transcript and an ambitious senior program, we sometimes feel that seeing mid-year grades from these top courses can help us make a final decision.


2. The Upward Trend

We try to counsel students about waiting for Regular Decision if they are rebounding from some shaky grades earlier in the high school career. There are other voices pushing students to submit applications early because there is a belief that early rounds are easier. Some schools may have a different process for their early round, but we have the same review style no matter when you apply.

When we see someone who is rebounding from a weak year (whether that's about a grade or program), we often feel it's best to get one more semester of work in the file. If you are rebounding, know that we are rooting for you!


How Do You Respond?

There's a link in the decision letter you received that goes to a Defer FAQs page that covers what you are supposed to do next.

We get plenty of emails/comments that question our advice on that page. You do not need to start a defer campaign. I think there are people out there who insist that you must do this and that might influence the process at other schools. If you look back at the two scenarios I cited above, the issue isn't with supplements or recommendations (remember, we turned off the non-academic recommendation function in Common App). An academic update about how the first semester went will be most helpful.

If you are a senior, you have a lot on your plate. I can't tell you how many essays I've read about sleep deprivation and time management in the last few years. We are trying to help you be smart about how you spend your limited time. If a college tells you not to worry about doing something, don't do it. It's not going to move the needle. Use your energy elsewhere!

I know there are folks out there who will cite the student from another year who sent all sorts of extras. They may be convinced they were offered admission during Regular Decision because of those extras when the admission officers were really just looking for those mid-year grades. Keep it simple.

A Word About Statistics

People inevitably ask me for stats about the defer pool. I don't have data to cite a trend, but I can say that residency will still be a major factor, with more deferred students from Virginia getting offers in Regular Decision. School choice and the size of the pool are also factors.


I know this isn't the decision you wanted to see the other night, but I hope you realize that deferral is not the end of the road. It means we see things we like in your file and we want to see more. Hang in there.
Not loving this situation.