Deferred? We Have Some Advice For You.

Yale Admissions Office

Admissions Officers love decision day – in the past few months we’ve gone from being holed up in our offices reading hundreds of applications to sitting through hours of admissions committee to finally having firm decisions on all of our students. We stuff each admit packet with care and send them off to all corners of the world. In all of the excitement we sometimes have to remind ourselves not to forget that while decision day is thrilling for those who are accepted, it can be deeply disappointing and frustrating for those who are not.

At Yale we have two rounds of this emotional rollercoaster: Early Action and Regular Decision. Students who apply early will receive one of three decisions in mid-December: Accept, Defer, or Deny. Accepted students get to revel in their glory, sport a new Yale t-shirt to school every day, and maybe even withdraw all of their other applications. Denied students will, after the initial disappointment and appropriate mourning period, hopefully be able to move on and get excited about their Regular Decision options. But what about those students who are deferred and find themselves stuck in Yale application purgatory?

Here’s the deal. A deferral from Yale means one thing and one thing only: We need more time to consider your application. It’s important to understand this. You were not deferred because there is something wrong with your application. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: if you were deferred it means your application is strong enough to continue to be seriously considered by the admissions committee.

What is this mysterious “admissions committee,” anyway? Believe it or not, real people (like me!) do read your application. And then a group of real people (also like me!) actually get in a room together and talk about you (often with lots of unhealthy snacks to keep us going). We talk about where you’re coming from and what you’re like, we talk about what you might bring to the Yale community and what you might get out of it. We might read one of your essays together, we might look up your hometown on Google Maps to see where you’re from. There’s no formula, no rubric, no point values that get added or subtracted. It’s just a group of real people deciding who we’d like to add to our community. The point is, we spend a lot of time thinking about each application. And we’ll do the same once again with yours in the RD process.

So what can you do now? Not all that much, it turns out. First, take a few days to not think about Yale. Think about all of those other great colleges you’re applying to in Regular Decision - Yale is a hard place to get into no matter who you are, so I certainly hope we’re not the only college you’re excited about applying to. We do not recommend that you send the admissions office piles of updates after a deferral. You should not try to re-do any parts of your application. You should not inundate your admissions officer with weekly emails and cards. More often than not it is the required pieces of the applications, like the essays and teacher recommendations that we already have, that make a student stand out for us. For the most part, we have what we need. We’ll get your mid-year grades from your school counselor to see how you’re doing in your senior year classes, and if you want you can send us one letter of update to let us know what you’ve been up to since November 1st.

The bottom line is that “deferral” does not mean “we need more information” or “something wasn’t good enough.” It means we see a lot of great potential in you and we just need a little more time to sit in that committee room and mull things over. And while we do that, you can start getting excited about your other options and take some time to actually enjoy your senior year. We appreciate your patience, and you’ll be hearing from us again soon.