If you relate to any of the following scenarios, then this article is for you:
“I was accepted Early Decision at Columbia, but am considering losing my deposit and applying to Harvard next year because ED admissions at Columbia probably means I can get into HBS.”
“I have been accepted to NYU Stern, but am thinking about rejecting NYU and applying to Wharton next year – I had been waitlisted and then rejected from Wharton this year.”
“I have been accepted to MIT, but prefer Stanford because of the brand.”
Here are my thoughts on the above situations:
1. If the top school that accepted you supports your career goals and provides an educational environment that you’re comfortable with (and it should, otherwise why would you have applied there in the first place?), then I say, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. You should be thrilled with your acceptance at Columbia, NYU, or MIT, and attend!
2. Don’t assume that you’ll get accepted to an elite school (H/S/W) simply because you received an offer from a top school — even an Early Decision acceptance at Columbia. The adcoms won’t be checking with the other schools to see where you were admitted; admissions decisions are independent events, so don’t draw conclusions from unrelated circumstances.
3. Now, taking 1 and 2 into account, there is something to be said for not giving up hope on your dream school. NYU Stern is truly a fantastic school, and it may even be fantastic for you. But if your heart is set on Wharton and you can’t get that nagging “What if?” question out of your mind, then you may decide to reject your NYU offer and try again for Wharton next year. I personally wouldn’t do it, but they’re YOUR dreams. At the same time realize there is no guarantee you will be accepted to NYU the second time around.
Here are some other reasons why you may decide to request a deferral or reject an offer from a top b-school:
• Personal circumstances: There’s a major illness in your family or you have an elderly parent who needs you close by, for example.
• A relationship: Your significant other will be attending a one-year program in your hometown, so you will defer for a year so you can stay together.
• A change in your goals: Since you applied, you’ve done some serious soul searching and/or have had new developments on the career front that changed the right school choices then to wrong school choices now. This is not so common, but if you find yourself in this scenario, then you should reject your offer and start from scratch next round or next year with a fresh list of programs.
Deferral tip: Schools really hate to give deferrals. If you wish to defer and are serious about attending the program the following year, offer to pay a large deposit that will go towards your tuition upon matriculation and be lost if you decide not to attend.