The Difference Between Waitlisted and Deferred in College Admissions Explained

Waitlisting and deferred admissions are two of the most common decisions that college applicants may receive when they apply to a college. But many people don’t understand the difference between thse two processes or what it means for their chances of admission.

To understand what waitlisting and deferred admissions are, it’s important to know how college admissions work. When students apply to a college, the school considers each application on its own merits and makes an admissions decision based on that individual application. Depending on the applicant’s qualifications, the school may accept them, reject them, or decide to delay thir decision by waitlisting or deferring them.

Waitlisting is when a college puts an applicant “on hold” until later in the admissions cycle. Applicants who are waitlisted are neither accepted nor rejected; instead they are placed in a pool of other applicants who may be considered if space opens up at the school after all other applications have been processed. The acceptance rate for students placed on a waitlist varies depending on the university; on average, aout half of those offered spots on a waitlist accepted it, and colleges typically admitted 20% of students off their waitlists.

Deferred applicants are also “on hold” but for different reasons than those who are waitlisted. Deferred applicants have usually applied during an early round (like early action or rolling admissions) but have not been accepted or rejected yet because ther applications require additional review from the university before making a final decision. On average, about 15% of deferred applicants gain admission in the regular decision round.

So what does this mean for you? If you receive either a waitlisted or deferred status for your application, your chances of admission aren’t necessarily lower than those applying in other rounds—but you should be aware that there is less certainty with waiting for an admission decision compared to being accepted outright. It also helps to know that your odds may be beter if you’ve been deferred rather than waitlisted — deferred students are reconsidered during the regular decision round and should have about the same chance as other regular decision applicants — so keep up your efforts towards strengthening your application!

Likelihood of Acceptance After Being Deferred

It is difficult to predict the exact likelihood of being accepted after being deferred, as it depends on the individual circumstances. However, based on previous admission cycles at the university, approximately 15% of deferred applicants have been accepted in the Regular Decision round. It is important to note that these statistics can vary from year to year depending on changes to the admissions process. Therefore, it is important for deferred applicants to remain proactive by continuing to demonstrate their interest and commitment in attending the university by submitting additional materials or taking part in other opportunities available.

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The Chances of Acceptance After Being Waitlisted

It is difficult to predict the exact likelihood of being accepted off a waitlist, as it varies by college and depends on many factors such as the size of the waitlist and the competitiveness of other applicants. However, statistics indicate that on average, around 20% of students who are offered a spot on a college waitlist are eventually accepted. This means that for every 100 students who are offered a spot on the waitlist, only abot 20 will be accepted. Therefore, while there is certainly a chance of being admitted off the waitlist, it is not very likely.

Comparing Deferred and Waitlisted Admissions

Being deferred is generally better than being waitlisted. When a student is deferred, this means that their application has been postponed for review with the regular decision applicants. This givs the student an opportunity to improve their application and demonstrate why they should be accepted to the college.

On the other hand, being waitlisted means that the college still has not made a decision on your application. While you may still be accepted if a spot opens up, it is much less certain than if you were deferred. In addition, you may not have enough time to send any additional materials or make changes to your application before the college makes its final decision on your admissions status.

Ultimately, being deferred gives you more control over your admissions process and a better chance of gettng accepted than if you were waitlisted. It demonstrates that the college has an interest in you and believes that there is potential for you to become a successful student at their institution.

What Does Being Waitlisted Mean?

Being waitlisted does not necessarily mean that you are accepted. Waitlists are put in place by colleges to deal with an overload of applicants. When a college has more qualified applicants than available slots, they will add the remaining applicants to a waitlist and make decisions later on. The waitlist is essentially a holding area for students who may be accepted if space opens up, or who may remain in limbo util the college makes its final admissions decisions. Ultimately, being waitlisted does not guarantee acceptance, but it does leave open the possibility for admission at a later date.

The Meaning of Deferred: Rejected or Something Else?

No, deferred does not mean rejected. Deferred simply means that the admissions committee needs more information in order to make a decision about whethr or not to accept the applicant. It is an opportunity for the student to provide additional material that may be helpful in making a decision, such as grades from recent semesters, test scores, or letters of recommendation. There is still a chance that an applicant could be accepted after being deferred.

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The Pros and Cons of Deferral and Rejection

It is difficult to make a blanket statement about whether it is better to be deferred or rejected snce the answer depends on the individual student’s situation. Generally, however, being deferred is often seen as a more positive outcome than being rejected. It indicates that the admissions committee is still considering the student’s application and may potentially still accept them in a later round of admission decisions. Being deferred gives the student more time to improve their application by submitting additional test scores, essays, or other materials. On the other hand, being rejected means that a student’s application was not successful and there are no further opportunities for reconsideration. Ultimately, it is up to each individual student to decide which outcome they prefer.

The Implications of Being Waitlisted

No, being waitlisted is not a rejection. When a school waitlists an applicant, it means that the school appreciates their application and feels that the applicant has potential to be successful in their program. The school may not have enogh space in the incoming class to accept all of the qualified applicants, so they choose to put some on a waitlist. Being waitlisted does not guarantee admission, but it does leave open the possibility that the applicant could eventually receive an acceptance letter from the school. Waitlisted students should reach out to admissions offices to learn more about their chances of being accepted off of the waitlist.

The Impact of Waitlisting on Students

So many students are waitlisted because the number of applications that a school receives typically exceeds the number of availale spots for incoming freshmen. Schools are often highly selective, and since there are more applicants than spots, some students must be placed on a waitlist. The waitlist is an important tool for schools, as it allows them to maintain their selectivity while still ensuring that they can fill their freshman class in the event of a lower-than-expected yield rate.

Understanding the Reasons for Being Waitlisted Rather Than Accepted

It is possible that you were waitlisted and not accepted because there were simply more students who had stronger qualifications than yours. Being waitlisted does not mean that you are not a competitive candidate. Many colleges use a holistic approach to admissions, meaning they consider more than just grades and test scores when making decisions. It is possible that other applicants had higher grades, better test scores, or some other quality that made them a better fit for the school’s desired student body. Additionally, colleges often prioritize students based on major choices or other desirable qualities they bring to the school. If you have been waitlisted, it is important to stay in contact with the college and show your continued interest in attending.

are waitlisted and deferred the same thing

Does Deferred Admission Mean Rejection?

No, a deferral does not mean that you are not getting into the college. It means that the college is delaying its decision on your application unil it can compare it to the applications of all the other students who applied for regular admission. The deferral simply suggests that the admissions committee needs more time to review your application and make a decision. A deferral may also be an indication that your application was strong enough to merit further consideration, so you should feel encouraged by this action. Ultimately, regardless of whether you receive an acceptance or denial letter, you should be proud of yourself for having taken the step to apply and persevering through the process.

The Impact of High College Acceptance Rates on Waitlisting

Waitlists are a common occurrence among college admissions, and the reason why so many applicants are getting waitlisted is because colleges often accept more students than they have space for in their incoming class. This allows them to wait and see who actually enrolls before making a final decision on those on the waitlist. This helps to ensure that the college is able to meet its enrollment goals wile still maintaining its selectivity. Additionally, some colleges use their waitlist as a way to manage their applicant pool by providing an opportunity for applicants who appear qualified but may not have been accepted outright.


In conclusion, the waitlist and deferral process can be a stressful time for students hoping to gain admission to their university of choice. While the odds are better for deferred applicants than waitlisted applicants, there is still no guarantee of admission. Colleges typically accept around 20% of applicants from the waitlist, while 15% of deferred applicants gain admission in the Regular Decision round. Ultimately, it is important that students understand the implications of being waitlisted or deferred and stay in contact with their college admissions office throughout the process.

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William Armstrong

William Armstrong is a senior editor with, where he writes on a wide variety of topics. He has also worked as a radio reporter and holds a degree from Moody College of Communication. William was born in Denton, TX and currently resides in Austin.