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college deferment during COVID-19

College Deferment in the Time of COVID-19

Introduction

Colleges shuttered, classes held online, and no clear sign of when everything will return to normal. While some institutions are pledging to once again open in the new academic year, others are hedging their bets by moving increasing numbers of courses online. 

While institutions themselves are uncertain, uncertainty plagues both current and prospective students even more. They may have gotten into a college, but will it even be open when it comes time to attend? Will they be paying for virtual lectures alone; missing out on many of the essential elements of the college experience? 

There is, however, a way around this problem for students. They may decide to defer their acceptance, so they could attend without having to apply again and take a gap year instead. 

In a recent survey, 17% of students are considering delaying their college start until Winter 2021, and 16% are considering a full gap year. How can a student do these things, and what should they do if they aren’t at college? At Ivy Scholars, we have experience guiding students through every stage of their journey to college, ensuring they have a fulfilling educational experience even if they aren’t at college. 

How to Defer

So, someone wants to put off the start of their college journey. How do they do it? 

They begin a process called deferment, wherein they ask colleges to reserve their place until the next semester or academic year. Students defer admission for many reasons: a desire to mature more, financial difficulties, health and family concerns, or merely a desire for a break from school before beginning anew. Schools will generally want a specific stated reason for deferment, and some will not consider the current pandemic a valid reason, according to a recent article. Many schools will also want to see what a student has done or accomplished during their gap year; they want to make sure the activities undertaken are meaningful. 

A student should research and contact any schools from which they are considering asking for deferred enrollment; because policies will differ, and each school will be responding to the current situation differently. 

The Process

All of the following steps should be performed before a student accepts admission to a university, and before the deadline for accepting a place has passed. Attempting to defer after either of these will cause undue trouble for admissions officers, who will, therefore, view deferment requests less favorably. 

After a student determines the reasons for why they want to defer, they should contact the admissions department by email. If the department doesn’t reply within two weeks, reach out again. Most universities will have conditions for allowing a student to defer. These usually include: 

  • Placing a deposit and signing a statement of intent to attend after the period of deferment. 
  • An explanation of why you want deferral.
  • A description of what you will do with your time off. 
  • A promise you will not attend or apply to college elsewhere. 

Students who take classes elsewhere, such as at a community college, will be treated as transfer students instead of deferred applicants, and will not have their places reserved.

Most schools have a limit on how many deferrals they accept each year, so beginning this process earlier will only help a student’s chances. Many schools are also considering changing their policies to reflect the current situation, although each school is taking an individual approach, with no cohesive picture of how the next academic year will be handled. Ivy Scholars is here and able to help guide students through the process of requesting deferment, and navigating the demands of various institutions.

As the current pandemic has impacted colleges, many are being forced to re-evaluate how they teach classes, and what the student experience can and should look like. As part of this, deadlines for acceptance were vastly extended, and many schools reconsidered how to deal with requests for deferment. For example, Cornell has stated that they will be very flexible with deferment, and are allowing more students onto, and off of, the waitlist due to this decision. Ivy Scholars offers guidance for every step of this process, from what to do if a student wants to get off the waitlist, to the best ways to write to a university and request deferment. 

If not College, Then What? 

So, when a student doesn’t head straight to college, what are they supposed to do with their time? 

There is a tradition of gap years, during which time a student volunteers, travels abroad, works, or develops personal projects. Many of these options are going to be impacted by the pandemic as well, as nations close their borders and airports are shuttered. That does not mean gap years are no longer feasible, merely that they too will need to be reimagined in light of current circumstances. 

While some of the traditional avenues for gap years are unavailable, online opportunities abound. Students can volunteer, learn languages, see lectures by experts in all fields, and learn any and all subjects from the comfort of their homes. While these may not be the classical gap year experiences, students can still learn new skills and explore individual projects, which will prepare them for when they do enter college. Projects explored online and at home should not be discounted due to their medium, but instead valued for the knowledge they impart and experience they provide to a student. 

At Ivy Scholars, we know how to guide students to activities where they will thrive, in order to complement and expand their interests. We have a depth of experience matching students with internships, online courses, or individual projects that spur their curiosity, and allow them to explore in greater depth the topics that matter to them. Each student is unique, and so each will have different needs and desires. It is important to meet students where they are, in order to help them get where they’re going. 

5/5
Wendy Y.
Parent
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

From an admitted student's perspective, I am incredibly grateful to have met Sasha - he has been instrumental in helping me achieve my educational dreams (Ivy League), all while being an absolute joy (he's a walking encyclopedia, only funnier!) to work with.

Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

That said, you need a good lawyer just like you need a good college counselor. And that's where Sasha distinguishes himself from the crowd of people claiming they'll get you into Harvard. I came to Sasha worried about and frankly dumbfounded by the college admissions process. I was unsure what to write about and how to go about drafting the essay that perfectly captured my passion, interests, and self. And I was highly skeptical that anyone could really help me. But, damn, did Sasha prove me wrong. From the beginning, Sasha amazed me with his understanding of the process, and ability to lend clarity and direction to me when I desperate needed it. After interviewing me about my background, experiences, activities, outlook, and vision, he helped me see qualities about myself I had not previously considered 'unique' or 'stand-out.' This process of understanding myself was so incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the essays I eventually wrote, and I'm certain I would've drafted boring, inauthentic essays without it.

Looking back, Sasha's talent is that he can see where your strengths lie, even when you don't see them. The truth is, although we don't always realize it, everyone has a unique story to tell. Sasha helped me see mine, and with his big-picture insight I was able to write the application that truly encapsulated my life and vision. He inspired me to dig deeper and write better, challenging me to revise and revise until my essays were the most passionate and authentic work I had ever written. As clichéd as that sounds, that's really what universities are looking for. In retrospect, it makes sense - in the real world passionate (not simply intelligent) individuals are the ones who make a difference in the world, and those are the individuals colleges would like to have associated with their brand.

In the end, I was accepted to the college of my dreams, a feat I could not have achieved without the direction Sasha lent to me. Essays (and the personal narrative you develop through your application) matter so much, and can literally make or break your application. I have seen so many of my 'qualified' friends receive rejections because they wrote contrived essays that didn't truly represent who they were; conversely, I have also seen so many friends with shorter resumes accepted because they were able to articulate their story in a genuinely passionate and authentic way - I fall into the latter category.

As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
5/5
Arda E.
Student
I used Ivy Scholars to mainly help me with college applications. Within weeks of using this service, Sasha was able to simplify the already complex process. When it came to writing the Common App essay, Sasha didn’t just help with grammar and syntax, he brought my essays to life. Sasha also worked tirelessly to help solidify my extracurricular activities, including research and internship opportunities. Without his help, I would have never had an impressive resume.

Sasha is not only an extremely knowledgeable tutor, but also a genuine brother figure. His guidance, throughout my last two years of high school, was everything I needed to get me an acceptance letter from my dream schools (UC Berkeley, Tufts, Emory).

When it came to testing, Ivy Scholars worked like a charm. Sasha offered a very comprehensive plan when it came to completely acing my standardized tests. Without his test taking strategies I would have never gotten straight 5s on my AP tests and a 35 on the ACT.

Working with Sasha, I didn’t just become a good student, I became a genuine scholar.
5/5
Samson S.
Parent
We worked with Ivy Scholars during my son's senior year. I was concerned that we may be too late to take advantage of college advising but the Ivy Scholars team quickly and confidently directed us through the steps to ensure no deadlines were missed. Sasha's knowledge about schools, what they looked for in candidates, and how to maneuver the application process was invaluable. Mateo and Ryan worked with my son to help him create an essay that would get noticed and I am so appreciative he had their guidance.

Prior to securing Ivy Scholars, we tried using a less-expensive online service which was a terrible experience. As a parent, Ivy Scholars brought peace of mind to an area that was frankly overwhelming. This service was invaluable in the knowledge that we gained throughout the process. He has also met with my freshman daughter to provide guidance for her high school courses, career paths, extracurricular activities, and more.

Prior to signing with Ivy Scholars, I tried a less expensive online service and was very disappointed.

As a result of our work with Ivy Scholars, I am pleased to say that my son will be attending Stern Business School at New York University this fall! I highly recommend Ivy Scholars. Highly recommend!