While deferrals used to be more freely granted, this year b-schools are buckling down and saying "no," reports BusinessWeek's Anne VanderMay .
VanderMay provides a few reasons why top b-schools are moving in this direction. First, she says, the volume of deferrals was getting weightier. Financial problems were the most common causes of deferral requests because prospective students are having increased difficulty securing funds in the wake of the credit crisis. Acquiring loans became increasingly difficult, selling one's home to move out of state is nearly impossible, and quitting one's job is more and more scary.
However, schools are increasingly reluctant to grant deferrals because permitting them throws off the “admissions balance." Fewer students from the following year would be admitted, and students who were competitive this year may not be as competitive compared to next year's student pool, given the ever increasing “quality” of MBA classes.
Another element VanderMay brings up is enthusiasm. She explains that students who attend their MBA programs immediately after having been accepted, enter the program with a fresh and vital enthusiasm that students who push off their acceptances for a year frequently lack.
Schools that once handed out deferrals like candy are now becoming increasingly Scrooge-like. Some schools, like Duke University's Fuqua School of Business for example, are even aiming for a no-deferral policy.
For schools that are still open to the idea, but wary of it, like Michigan's Ross School of Business, the qualifications for deferral are on the rise. Far from the automatic deferrals of the past, students now require extreme circumstances—either a serious illness or military deployment. Requests based on reasons like a job promotion, general indecision, or financial-related reason are likely to be rejected.
Many b-schools are also rather clear about the fact that if a student is not an exceptional candidate, he or she will unlikely be granted a deferral.
There's no harm in trying to defer, says VanderMay, but students who are not sure if this will be the year of b-school attendance may be better off applying the year they actually plan on attending.
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