Deferred vs. Waitlisted

deferred vs waitlisted















Applying to college is one of the most exciting and scariest experiences you can go through. You never know whether you’ll get an acceptance letter or a rejection letter. One thing you may not consider is that the school can defer your enrollment or put you on a waiting list. Comparing deferred vs. waitlisted lets you see what each one means.

A school will only defer you if you applied for an early decision. Most schools have early action and early decision programs that help students apply early in their senior years or even during their junior years. It shows that you didn’t meet the standards for early decision but the school will review you again before the regular deadline.

If you apply for regular admission and get waitlisted, it means the school isn’t sure if you’re a good fit. A college or university may get more applications than it has room for in the next class. It will slowly work its way down the list as accepted students decide to attend other schools. You might wait months to hear back from the school. Whether you land on the waitlist or get your enrollment deferred, there are a few things you can do.

6 Steps to Take When You’re Waitlisted

Winding up on a school’s waitlist is frustrating because it can take so long before you get an answer. Instead of sitting at home and stressing about what might happen, take a look at the six steps you can take to increase your chance of getting off that lis.

1. Compare Other Schools

One reason so many students are upset when they get waitlisted is that the schools were their top choices. You might love the diversity on the campus, all of the different housing options, some of the college professors who work there, or the fun clubs you can join. When the letter that shows you are waitlisted arrives, consider comparing that school to other colleges. It can take months before the first school gets back to you. Waiting for a decision can leave you scrambling to find financial aid before classes start and even without a dorm room for the fall semester. Look into the schools that accepted you or apply to other colleges. If you decide that you really want to attend the first university, express interest with a call to an admissions counselor or a letter to the campus. Most schools will ask you to verify that you want to remain on the waitlist, too.

2. Plan to Attend Another University

Schools today have a final deadline for the fall semester. They require that incoming students pay a deposit that holds their spot for the next year. Your first choice college will wait until this deadline passes before it starts reaching out to students on the waitlist. Waiting to get an answer is a risk because you may not get off the list. Putting a deposit down on a spot at another school ensures that you can take classes in the fall, even if you can’t attend your top choice.

3. Get More Experience

Colleges look at more than just grades today. Admissions counselors will also look at anything on your resume such as a part-time job you had in high school or any volunteer work you did. Gaining more experience helps you stand out and shows the school why they should admit you. Apply for scholarships through organizations and programs, submit articles to local papers and magazines, and sign up for more volunteer opportunities. You can even launch a blog on a topic that helps others like caring for animals, applying to college, or getting a better standardized test score.

4. Make Your Last Months Count

Far too many students slack off later in the year because they assume that schools only look at their early grades. If you’re on a waitlist, the college may ask for a final transcript or a report card that shows the grades you received during your last semester. This is your chance to shine and show the school that you never give up. You can even consider taking IB or AP classes as well as signing up for college courses to show you’re capable of college-level work. Even if the school doesn’t ask for a transcript, submit your most recent grades.

5. Gather Letters of Recommendation

While high school students usually don’t need letters of recommendation, those letters can show the university why it should take you off the waitlist. The best people to write recommendation letters are those who are familiar with your work. Ask a boss or supervisor who oversees you at your job, a coach who is familiar with your commitment to a sport, or a favorite teacher who gave you high grades in the past. You can even submit a letter written by one of your peers.

6. Take a Standardized Test

Both the SAT and ACT are examples of the top standardized tests that students take today. If you received a low score on one or both tests, look for ways to improve your score and take it again. Even if the college doesn’t require a standardized test score, sending them a high score can help you get off the waitlist. Sign up for a prep course run by someone who earned a high score in the past or bunker down with some test prep books. Many of these books include practice tests that help you see the areas where you need to do more work and which areas you mastered. Request that the testing board send the new score to the college that waitlisted you.

Deferred vs. waitlisted: It’s Not the End

Learning the difference between deferred vs. waitlisted is the best way to see what comes next. When a college defers your application, you can use any of these steps to improve your chance of getting an acceptance letter when it makes its next round of decisions. Waitlisted students can use these same steps to make the university take a chance on them. Try one or more of these steps when your top school waitlists or defers your admission.