College deferral – what is it and is it right for my child?

As college potentials rise to the challenge of the college process, unknown factors such as a pandemic, can prove to be quite overwhelming. Even for students who have already made their decisions, questions are to be raised. What will my school look like in the fall? Will campuses and housing be open? Will learning be done online or in person? And lastly, is deferment a plausible choice for me right now?

What exactly does it mean to defer?

Well, to defer means to postpone enrollment at a university. Deferment can be either self- imposed or school sanctioned. Different schools will have different policies regarding deferment. Some may offer gap year programs or, some may have a strict no deferment policy, leaving a student with no confirmation of enrollment to depend upon if they choose to defer. 

What does this mean for me?

First off, this means you have the option to wait. Due to the Coronavirus wreaking havoc on our college campuses, choosing a college right now may just not be an option. If that’s the case, you will need to keep a sharp eye out for changing policies. Schools are also scrambling to figure out the best solutions to the current situation and are more than likely to change their minds at any given time. You may need to be flexible, or more open-minded during this time. Your fall will most likely not look the same as how you envisioned it, but it can still be a healthy and educational fall as long as you stay on top of your college updates.   

Shellee Howard the Founder of College Ready, has seen an increase in questions regarding deferring to college and wanted to make sure students and parents have the information to make an educated decision.  What you do not know will cost you in time and money!  Colleges vary in their deferral policies.  The most important thing you should be asking, is what will your student do if they defer?  If they defer, will they have to reapply as a transfer student?

Options and Restrictions

Now, we would like to go over some options and restrictions to keep in mind while debating a deferral. This is a comprehensive guide of concerns that we have seen raised but may not be encompassing to all of the roadblocks and changes you may face this year. 

Living Situations

  • Especially for students interested in University housing or Greek housing, staying on the lookout for information regarding housing rearrangements will be key. Some schools have asked local students to refrain from living on campus, and some have even chosen to get rid of university housing for the time being. We encourage you to become aware of the possibilities for your living situation and be open to all outcomes. Know that this isn’t the school’s optimal situation either, and things will return to normal slowly but steadily. 

Thinking Economically

  • You may find yourself having to reconsider schools based on financial standings. The Coronavirus has affected many families and schools economically and it is important to be clear on where you stand. Choose wisely when it comes to test-optional schools. Your lack of test score may cost you a merit scholarship.

Be aware of what is financially required from you, as well as your flexibility financially in accordance with the Coronavirus,

Don’t know what test-optional means? Read our article all about the ups and downs of testing during a pandemic. 

Thinking Locally

Something that may become a fitting option for many students is local schooling. Local schooling allows for students to commute from home, low travel cost if more quarantines happen, and a way for parents to keep a better eye on their students. Credits at local colleges can be used to eventually transfer. (Be sure to understand how many credits are transferable at your college) While this may not be the most ideal situation for many potentials, it is one that will most likely be temporary. Schools will slowly come to a new normal, and may allow you to skip the hectic year we are bound to have but do not assume, get everything in writing. 

You may be thinking, “I will just keep my student at home for a year and then when the virus has passed, send them back to the college they were accepted into”.  Unfortunately, many colleges do not allow you to enroll in community colleges while deferring.  Others may cap the number of units you may take.  Taking more credits than allowed could mean having to reapply as a transfer student, which can have implications for eligibility for institutional scholarships.  Most transfer students receive less scholarships then first time Freshmen.

Gap Year

This brings us to gap years. Should your student consider a gap year? Consider whether the school allows deferment, or will they have to transfer in? Are gap year programs even functioning at the moment? Can you locate any reliable internship opportunities? The virus does not affect only college campuses, it affects the gap year as well. More places are going to be close, and less companies are going to be taking on interns. Many schools like to see deferment candidates with a plan or job set in place. International travel might not be a guaranteed or ideal option.  Deferring, is not automatic and most colleges will ask to see a deferral plan. 

Making a Decision

So, do you defer, or do you jump into the unknown. It can be smart to play it safe, take a gap year, and keep safe at home. But it could be just as beneficial to jump into the unknown. Now, is such a prevalent time in a college potential’s life, and making the choice to just commit is a risky but respectable pathway.

One final thought, a student who defers a year is trading one year of post-college earning potential for whatever income or experience they would be able to have in the year ahead.

We understand this is a confusing time, and offer free 30 minute consultations with no ties, so that you can speak directly to a professional about what option may be best for your family.

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