College Acceptance Waiting is Over. Or Not.


Some college dreams aren't dashed, but are deferred.

March 31st is the traditional date when colleges and universities notify students whether they’ve been accepted or not. Some students have already benefited from early or rolling admissions and knew where they will be attending college next fall, but for the vast majority of students the decision day is now in the recent past.

Third Option

For a small group of students a third option beyond acceptance and rejection has emerged: wait longer. They’re not being admitted to their choice school right now, but they aren’t being rejected outright. Instead, some students may still be able to attend their top choice school in a year or two as a transfer student provided that they maintain a certain GPA while waiting.

This practice isn’t new, but it is becoming much more apparent. Schools have been handling record numbers of applications in recent years, which means fewer students are able to get in. At the same time, administrators recognize that some students will drop out or transfer after a year or two, freeing up space in the upper levels to transfer students.

Deferred Admission

Writing for The New York Times, Lisa W. Foderaro found that “deferred admission” or “guaranteed transfer” is being practiced by schools as a form of enrollment management. Affected school leaders, understanding that spots will most likely open up in a year or two, are telling applicants to study elsewhere, maintain high grades and to put in for a transfer later. Joe Student may not get into Harvard now, but if he maintains high grades at Lehigh, Lafayette or Drew University, he may get to wear Crimson sometime after his first year.

This practice may provide the only avenue to coveted academic stardom, but it doesn’t sit well with everyone. Foderaro noted that at least one academic dean considers the practice “borderline unethical” as it gives such schools a way of poaching students from other colleges.

The practice of deferment varies amongst institutions with some simply delaying enrollment to the spring semester as seats open up. Some schools provide academic adviser guidance to help students choose the right courses to take when enrolled elsewhere. That makes it easier for students to have all of their credits transfer, providing a seamless adjustment at their new school.

GMU Program

Some colleges and universities work cooperatively with other schools to expedite transfers. For example, George Mason University has a “guaranteed admission agreement” with Germanna Community College whereby students who received an AA&S from GCC can transfer to George Mason provided a certain GPA is reached and minimum 45 credits are taken at the new school. This arrangement is similar to what many public colleges and schools have in place for community college students.

Getting waitlisted may not be ideal for students, but it does leave open the possibility that a transfer would take place later. The ethics with “deferred admissions” may be borderline, but as long as the practice is clearly articulated to prospective students, it won’t be a problem except within the academic community.


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Categories: Campus News