The dust is settling, and the MBA application cycle is winding down. For some of you, despite having been admitted to one or more schools, you may not feel sure that are ready to matriculate – at least not to those programs. If this sounds familiar, you might be considering asking for a deferral. Here is insight into what business schools really think when you ask for a deferral:

  • They assume that you are planning to reapply to your first choice, which presumably isn’t their school.

Even if you tell the admissions committee that you want to defer for personal or professional reasons they will suspect that you are going to reapply to another program.

  • If you cite finances, they think that you don’t have your act together.

Admissions Committees expect you to understand your finances before you apply, and to assume responsibility for paying for school. Although they get that business school is a giant investment, there are many equally qualified candidates who can afford it, so asking for an extra year to set aside more money isn’t very compelling.

  • They know that there is a good chance that you aren’t ever going to matriculate, and they become less invested in yielding you.

Statistically, there is a pretty high attrition rate for deferred candidates. Schools understand that you are less likely to ever attend if you ask for a deferral, and they aren’t prone to incentivize you to matriculate with scholarships, preferred housing, etc.

  • They may be personally disappointed.

Admissions officers have likely gotten to know you throughout the application process, and may have even advocated for you to get in over other candidates. As a result, they may feel let down that your plans have changed. It’s helpful to know this before initiating any deferral conversations, so that you can be appropriately sensitive to the dynamic.


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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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