18 Percent of First-Years Deferred, Though Unlikely to Impact Admissions


Amanda Wampler ‘24, Guest Writer

Almost 18% of the Class of 2024 has chosen to defer their start at Dickinson until at least the spring of 2021, according to figures from  the college’s admissions office.

Before the decision to move the fall semester online, 597 first year students accepted their offer of admission and were prepared to attend Dickinson in the fall. Between the college’s July 15 decision to go remote  the deadline to defer, 107 students  postponed their enrollment. While this may seem like a large number, only about 31 students deferred until fall 2021, while the other 76 students deferred until spring 2021. Those students who deferred until the spring semester will remain in the class of 2024.

“We planned to be able to allow first-year students to defer for one semester. Normally if you request to defer, it’s a full year,” said Dean of Admissions Cathy Davenport. She added that this decision for a semester deferral option was made early on during the pandemic in order to help ease students’ minds.  

The small number of students from the class of 2024 that will be moving to join the class of 2025 should not have a large negative impact on the acceptance rate for the class of 2025 applicants. While there were previously questions about how this deferral rate might affect the acceptance rate for the class of 2025, Davenport indicated that it would not dramatically change the acceptance rate for Dickinson. While other universities like Harvard have 20% of their class deferring for a full year, this is not the case for Dickinson. “From a Dickinsonian perspective, even if we have 30 students we are holding spaces for next fall, that’s not a huge number that will throw off everything else,” said Davenport. 

For many first-years, the uncertain and the unusual nature of this semester were the deciding factors when choosing to defer their enrollment, either for a semester or even a year. In a pre-Covid-19 world, the start of freshman year at Dickinson meant Pre-Orientation, Orientation, Convocation, going to the first day of classes, the activities fair, and so much more. With Dickinson’s  fall semester now being conducted online, most of these important traditions are put on hold until students can safely return to campus.

For some students, missing out on the first year of college was too much. Rachel Jacoves ‘25 did not want to miss out on a single experience at Dickinson. “I really wanted to have a normal freshman year that was the on campus experience, and I think it was the fact that I couldn’t hang out with my friends, I would miss moving in, and all that stuff that made me decide to defer.” Jacoves plans to spend time working and deciding what she plans to major in during her deferral from Dickinson. 

While some students decided to defer, others decided to stay the course during this adjusted fall semester. Katie Chapis ‘24 took time to weigh the pros and cons of deferring or staying for the fall semester, ultimately choosing the latter. In a message to The Dickinsonian, She described her decision making process, saying, “I considered the quality (and strain) of in-person classes versus virtual classes and how my experiences would be vastly different,” adding that she also considered the other things she could do for a semester if she decided to defer.

“However, I realized that I couldn’t really do much else like traveling or getting an internship because traveling still hasn’t really opened up and a lot of places aren’t hiring at the moment,” said Chapis.“Thus, I figured it would be better to do something productive during this strange time and I figured the classes would still be of high quality (and they are!), even virtually.”  

While this unprecedented year has presented many challenges for students to overcome, most first-years at Dickinson are doing their best to make the most out of these challenging times.

Davenport said “I am pleased to hear that it sounds as though the students we worked really hard to review and select and invite to join us are doing what we expected them to be doing as far as academic performance and interests in other areas of the college.”