Deferred, Waitlisted, Rejected, and Accepted- What does it all Mean?
Davidson Institute for Talent Development
March 2013

This article takes a look at the college application process.

It is that time of year where my hair is turning gray in anticipation of receiving results for our students who were accepted, rejected, deferred and waitlisted. Once again, colleges are seeing a large increase in applications; which means colleges will not know who is coming and going. Yield is very important to universities. Yield represents the students who enroll in a school, as a percentage of all the students who are offered acceptance at that school in any given application cycle. Shortly, colleges will be extending offers, but will not know who is coming until May 1st.

So what does all of this mean?
If you are deferred, welcome to the club. Thousands of students throughout the nation are deferred every year. See it as being in the doorway of the university, but not quite in yet. Colleges are interested in you, but they do not know if there is enough room for you just yet or perhaps they couldn’t tell how committed you are to attending their institution.

If you are rejected, don’t let it get you down too much; see it as an opportunity. There are so many incredible institutions out there, with so much to offer. There is another school that will be so happy to have you. Rejection could mean so many different things such as:

  • There were too many students just like you.
  • Your application was rushed with mistakes.
  • There was a very strong applicant pool and you were not quite as appealing to them as some of the others in that pool for some reason.
  • You didn’t meet their qualification criteria.

If you are waitlisted, take a real close look at that school and ask questions about their waitlist.

  • Talk with your counselor. 
  • Do I even want to stay on it? (This will require more effort on my part)
  • What is the likelihood I will be offered a spot? (Think about it this way, most folks don’t decline their offers at some of our nation’s most prestigious universities so there isn’t usually much movement on the wait list)
  • Are they going to the waitlist this year? Give them a call and find out.
  • Whatever you do, be sure you put a deposit elsewhere so you have somewhere to go in the fall.

If you are accepted, well congratulations! You were what they were looking for at this time. Now it is time to accept an offer by May 1st. If you were accepted early, be sure to withdraw your applications elsewhere and let your alumni interviewer know. Some of these interviewers area really pulling for you; make sure you keep them in the loop. If you are not going to attend, make sure to notify them of this. That could be someone else’s spot at their dream school.


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