Dealing With Deferral

Dealing With Deferral

January 29, 2024
A post by Beth Anne Spacht, Associate Director of Admission.

Your breath catches in anticipation as you desperately try to remember your login credentials on decision release day, finally entering the online Spider Portal only to discover…you’re deferred.

Not the news you were hoping for, no doubt. But let’s hold off on that sigh of defeat for now.

Deferral does not mean never. It means not now.

What happens from this point forward? You select from one of two choices:

Option #1: If you'd like to remain in consideration and move your application into our Regular Decision round, you can let us know right there and then in your Spider Portal. In the coming months, your application materials will get another full review. 

Option#2: If you’ve decided to pursue another college option, you can withdraw your application from future consideration. We’ll respect your choice either way.

Let’s say you choose Option #1, because you really love Richmond. A few things you should know. First, we don’t defer students because we think you’ll never stand a chance of being qualified for admission. Quite the opposite. A deferral is a usually a sign that there’s something we find compelling about your application. Deferral decisions typically occur when we need a little bit more context on the full applicant pool before rendering a final decision. To get that context, we need to see the full scope of everyone who applies and reevaluate the strength of your candidacy from there.

There are a number of reasons why a student might be deferred. Perhaps you hit a stumbling block in one of your senior year courses first quarter/trimester, and we’d like to confirm that you’ll bring that GPA back to your usual strong standards. Maybe you chose to send us test scores, but in the context of other applicants who applied, your results are not quite in line – this added time might be the opportunity you need to retest. Decisions never rest on one factor alone, but it’s a good gut check moment; take a look at the scores you submitted compared to our posted student profile to inform if this is a pathway you wish to pursue. Now let’s say you’re feeling good about the first two factors. Here’s the tough part: the most common reason we defer is volume. Simply put, we have more amazing applicants than space in the class to admit right now. If we extended offers to everyone that meets our academic profile, we'd over-enroll our class

Okay, okay. A lot of enrollment management technicalities. That’s my job, not yours. I know what you really want to know: What do I do now? How can I improve my odds of being accepted in Regular Decision?

First, take a deep breath. Try not to read into the “why” behind our decision, because there really isn’t a singular answer. As a school that reviews applications holistically, our decisions are shaped by the cumulative picture in the context of the pool – not one factor alone. The truth of the matter is that by this stage, aside from re-testing (if applicable) and maintaining strength in your senior year grades, there’s not much within your control to change. A few rules of thumb:

  • Do not send extra letters of recommendation. We feel confident we can re-review your materials with what was provided before.
  • Do not email us weekly. Contact us only if a new detail emerged since applying that changes a fundamental element of your application (e.g. an added or dropped class).
  • Do not jump through hoops to visit campus just to show your commitment to the school. We love visitors, and welcome them always. But we don't track demonstrated interest, and this will not sway our decision.

What should you do? Stay positive. Soul search about Richmond. Continue to explore us as a potential college home. On or before April 1, we’ll render a new decision. The possible outcomes include: admitted, waitlisted, or denied. Be prepared for all possibilities, but know that whatever happens, you’re going to find a great college home.