Early Decision Defer

If I get deferred in early decision school I heard normally you are automatically passed on to regular admission. If so, do I compete with the regular admission polls?
From what I’ve heard, even if defer lets you automatically compete again with regular admission there’s hardly any change. Is this true? Or do I get any disadvantages if deferred when regular admission? Or does it act as a positive thing as I showed interest to early decision school that I’m deferred?

It depends on the individual school. Some keep most ED students in the pool for RD and review the applications with the ones from that round. Some schools feel it is kinder to flat out reject those that don’t get accepted, rather than string them along. In terms of how being deferred influences the final decision, again that will be school dependent based on whatever their internal policies and procedures are.

Incidentally, there are probably a fair number of deferred applicants who have a Plan B ready to go with an ED2 application somewhere. Any accepted in ED2 would have to withdraw their application at the ED 1 school.


Since you mentioned that it depends on the school’s internal policies, do they go public on such policies? Can I find out what each school’s policies are for early decision on their website or etc?

You’re not likely able to find out what individual schools do behind the curtain and I don’t think you would get an answer if you called them all on the phone. Maybe any former AOs who post on here might share some info but the confidential nature of the forum wouldn’t tell you which school it was.

Many schools are not transparent on these policies. I am guessing that the more competitive the school, the less likely they are to explain exactly how they make these decisions. All you can do is look at each website and see what it says there.

Being deferred can be a polite rejection, or it can mean a genuine reassessment of your app. In general, expect your odds to be lower though.
I discourage you from contacting the admissions office to ask questions about this. They will probably direct you to their website.

You can make certain inferences on their policies by looking at historical ED/REA decision statistics. While very few if any schools will publish the subsequent acceptance rate of deferred students, you can look at 2 things:

  • What percent of the total admits are from ED? The higher the number, it means both the available number of seats in the RD round is reduced and it implies that the school goes pretty far down the ED list for admits. If you did not make it in the ED round, it doesn’t look so good, subject to the consideration below.

  • What percent of the ED/REA students are deferred vs rejected. The lower the percentage of the deferred (usually coupled with a higher percentage of rejected) probably means that you are still in the running. If very few are rejected and most are deferred, I’d probably take that as a signal to move on in your expectations.

Does your school give you access to Naviance or Scoir? Filter on the ED and RD options. If your odds look better in ED but you get deferred to RD, don’t expect a better result in RD.