Amid fall semester uncertainty, 5Cs differ on deferral policies for incoming first-years

Scripps College will allow first-years to delay entrance until the spring semester. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Typically, incoming first-years at all five of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges aren’t allowed to defer enrollment for a single semester and join their classes in the spring. 

But with COVID-19 causing uncertainty around college admissions, some schools are making exceptions, while others are holding firm to their policies.

Scripps College has adopted the most flexible policy, allowing incoming first-year students to defer their enrollment to spring 2021, Vice President for Enrollment Victoria Romero said in an email to admitted students. 

“I have heard from many of you regarding the challenge of having limited information about our plans for the fall,” Romero said. “There are many unknowns and, to be honest, there are currently more questions than answers.”

The college has enrolled spring transfer students in the past and will adapt that academic model for incoming first-years, Romero told TSL via email. The college does not know how many students will partake in this option. 

Claremont McKenna College has adopted a similar policy for some international students. While most incoming first-year students are barred from deferring for a single semester and enrolling in the spring, some international students facing visa issues, travel restrictions or health issues may be allowed to delay enrollment to the spring 2021 semester, CMC spokesperson Gilien Silsby told TSL via email. 

But other schools — Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College — haven’t budged on their entrance policies, citing the structure of curriculum. 

At Mudd, where students complete a demanding core curriculum, incoming first-year students will not be allowed to defer for a single semester, college spokesperson Judy Augsburger told TSL via email. 

“Because of the way the Core curriculum is organized, students need to take the first semester before they can take the second semester,” the HMC COVID-19 website says. 

Pomona is not currently allowing spring entrance for first-years, due to a lack of a spring orientation program or faculty in place to teach critical inquiry seminars, which are required for first-year students in their first semester, Director of Admissions Adam Sapp told TSL via email.

Pitzer will also not accept single-semester deferral requests for first-years, Dean for Admission Yvonne Berumen told TSL via email. 

The colleges have also adopted different dates by which students need to notify their school whether they choose to defer their fall 2020 enrollment. 

Incoming Pomona first-years have until June 1 to formalize their plans, according to the college’s website.

Incoming first-years at CMC had to complete a deferral application by May 11 and confirm or withdraw an application by July 5, according to the school’s website. 

Pitzer will accept deferral requests until July 15, Berumen said.

Mudd has not yet announced a date by which students must request a deferral, Director of Admission Peter Osgood told TSL via email. 

While the Scripps website says that incoming students have until June 15th to request deferral, Romero said in an email that students have the option to defer to the spring once fall semester plans are solidified.

Imogen Brooks SC ’24 is planning to leave her home state of Arizona and enroll at Scripps in the fall if classes are held in person. But if classes are held online, she will most likely defer her enrollment to the spring semester and take classes at a local college. 

“I’m really glad that Scripps has made it easy for us to defer until the spring,” Brooks said via message. 

But she worried that by deferring to spring she would miss out on opportunities to bond with her classmates, even if just through online classes. 

“ … [T]o be able to share those first experiences with my classmates I feel would really solidify a bond between us,” Brooks said via message. “I’m afraid that I’ll feel left out, even though I’ll be doing a similar thing wherever I go.” 

The Claremont Colleges are still deciding what the fall semester will look like — whether that’s  bringing students back in person, delaying the start of the semester or teaching classes exclusively online. They expect to make a decision by July.

This article was last updated May 24, 2020 at 11:26 p.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Imogen Brooks SC ’24 lives in the state of Texas. Brooks lives in Arizona. TSL regrets this error. 


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