Deferring US Admissions to Study Abroad

Most students we advise at Eight Hours and Change apply to universities in the United States and Europe. Unfortunately, because the National Candidates Reply Date is May 1st in the US and German applications decisions are generally not made until June, July or August, this often leaves many students in the awkward position of having to decide that they want to study in Germany before they've been accepted to any programs.

To counter this problem, we recommend that most student choose to defer. Deferring acceptance at your top American choice gives you the ability to test out the German system while still having the option to return to the States after a year.

Deferral has never been more common, and is even encouraged today by some universities in the United States. According to US News and World Report, around 7% of incoming freshman at Harvard took this path, with similar numbers being reported at other top universities.

Not all universities have a policy of granting deferrals, so it is important to ask about this prior to applying. You can find a partial list of universities here with information about their deferral policies.

Be sure to ask if there is any potential for gaining college credit during your year abroad. Although many universities don't allow this, it is possible that they will accept the credits you've earned abroad. You can also reach out to specific departments to ask if the classes you plan to take will be recognized.

How to Defer College in America

  • Contact universities that you plan to attend to ask if they will allow you to defer your acceptance for a year
  • Contact university and individual departments to ask if they will accept credits you've earned abroad
  • Apply and gain admittance 
  • Send a letter to the college's director of admissions and describe what you plan to do during your year abroad after receiving your letter of acceptance (early - mid April)
  • Confirm that you will attend by paying your acceptance fee by May 1st (generally between $100 - $500)