How to Successfully Ask for an MBA Admissions Deferral

AdmissionA deferral is when an applicant is admitted to an MBA program they plan to attend but they desire to delay their matriculation to a later date due to some sort of extenuating circumstance. (This is different than the official deferred enrollment programs that are offered at some schools, such as the HBS 2+2 Program, which you can read about here.)

A big part of applying to business school is affirming why right now is the ideal time for you to pursue your MBA, so when a candidate asks for a deferral, it kind of flies in the face of that statement. As such, deferrals are often difficult to secure at most top MBA programs.

Generally, when deferrals are secured at top schools, it is due to personal illnesses, deaths or illnesses in the family, or military deployment – essentially, extreme circumstances that are outside of the control of the admit. Financial or work related deferrals are more commonly requested, but they are also less commonly approved. If you feel that you really need a deferral for one of these reasons by all means request one, just know the odds of the deferral being granted will not be in your favor.

If you are going to make the request to have your business school admission deferred, see if you can have a conversation about your situation with the Admissions Committee in-person, or at least on the phone, rather than over email. This will add a personal element to your request and increase the chance that the Admissions Committee will make their decision in your favor.

It also helps if you can position the reason for your deferral as a once in a life time opportunity while reaffirming your commitment to pursuing an MBA at that particular school the following year, and reminding the Admissions Committee of how you will be able to offer more to the student community upon your eventual matriculation. Remember this is a difficult decision for the Admissions Committee as well. If the school admitted you, then they are invested in you becoming a part of their community, so engaging in discussions around a deferral is equally challenging for the Admissions Committee.

Make sure to follow up your conversation with the Admissions Committee via email, and include a special thank you for their consideration as well as a reminder of the above notes, as this request is ultimately outside of the typical application process. The best thing you can do when engaging in the process of requesting an MBA deferral is to be humble. Remember, you are making a BIG request that the school does not need to grant you. Being humble and appreciative of the consideration you are receiving can only help your chances.

It is important to enter this process understanding the limited odds you have to actually secure a deferral, so follow the tips above to increase your chances, and make sure you are properly evaluating whether the alternative to matriculating in the year you applied is worth the overall hassle.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

The Right Way to Communicate with Business School Admissions Committees

Phone InterviewThe business school application process can be full of questions that can be difficult to obtain answers to. Although there is a lot of information publicly available about this general process, many applicants often seek answers that are more specific to their own candidacy and profile. However, with so many incoming applications, it is unrealistic for MBA admissions teams to be expected to service every single inquiry made by an applicant.

Now, this does not mean that admissions teams are not open to addressing questions or concerns an applicant may have, it just puts the onus on the candidate to make sure the inquiry is worthy of an admission officer’s time. Keep in mind, during the business school application process every interaction can be judged and evaluated, so you generally want to make sure if you are reaching out, the information you are looking for is of critical importance to your candidacy.

Here are a few ways it may be appropriate to communicate with the admissions committee during each stage of the admissions process:

Pre-Application Submission:
At this stage, you’ll generally want to leverage your communication with the admissions office in two areas. The first is to gain information about the program that will better inform your application – public settings such as school information sessions, affinity weekends and MBA tours are great places to begin to nurture relationships with representatives from admissions. Creating these relationships will allow you to personalize your future inquiries, if necessary, and will increase the opportunity for you to gain new insights into the school through your dialogue.

The second area surrounds more mission-critical questions. I see these questions as ones that will prevent you from properly completing an aspect of the application, such as transcript issues and other process-oriented problems.

Post-Application Submission:
This stage is largely seen as the “waiting game” phase of the admissions process, but important questions still sometimes arise for candidates. You’ll want to avoid communication during this stage unless it is absolutely critical – avoid questions regarding interview or decision timelines in particular, as these can make you appear too impatient to the admissions committee.

Even questions along the lines of receipt of application materials post-submission really should be discouraged; most of the back-end submission process is so automated that if you submit something you should be confident it was received. Unless a question arises that is crucial to your application, just sit back and relax as you wait to hear back from admissions regarding their decision.

Post Decision:
This is one of the tougher communication periods for applicants. Make sure to begin your communication with admissions after you have received a formal decision. If you’ve been admitted, use your communication to clarify the offer and to potentially inquire about additional funding (especially if you have received other favorable offers from competing programs). If you were denied admission, not much communication is necessary. If you had a strong relationship with someone in admissions, I would recommend you send out a thank you note, especially if you are considering reapplying in the future, and perhaps ask if admissions has any advice for future re-application.

If you were waitlisted, this phase is probably the most important for you. First and foremost, follow the communication guidelines laid out in your waitlist letter. Most programs will accept material updates to your application, so if you have any updates to report such as promotions, raises, GMAT improvements, new leadership opportunities, or other offers, make sure you share this information through the appropriate mechanisms.

In all of your interactions with admissions, you want to be professional and courteous. The better you communicate your respect for the great work the admissions committee does, the more they will be willing to help address your needs.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You read more articles by him here.