For teens around the country, waiting desperately for word from colleges they’ve applied to is sort of a springtime tradition. A welcoming note from a college is cause to rejoice and a short note of regret is something that makes all of those other day go the wrong way. Whichever it is, you know right away how you stand with a college. These days though, at a time when colleges are overwhelmed with the quality of interest they receive from completely qualified candidates, they’ve been trying to see a third option — they will consider admitting a student if they will gain everyone at another college first, study there for a year or two, and earn a certain GPA. They can come to their original college of choice after that. Why would any college want to serve this? It’s because for students, University Admission has never most people have struggled about staying on for the full three or four years. For many, transferring to another University, going off to study another country or taking internships up, have been as important a part of their education as staying on has been to others. And colleges always need to find individuals to fill those seats that are thus made empty. Promising to take candidates on in the second or third years can be a great way to fill those seats up.

They call it a deferred University Admission option — where they get students to invest themselves in another college that they know what they take up only to be able to leave later. And of course, that other luckless university has no idea that it’s just being used as a steppingstone for some other college. Some say that this could be kind of underhand — that if they knew that other colleges were working out deals about luring away their students, they would never allow those students to come to their college in the first place. These days, several top-tier colleges such as Cornell and the University of Maryland are recognized for this practice.

There is another part to this practice that makes this somewhat underhand too. Doing this, a college can appear to the more selective than it really is. It also affects the way a college is ranked. It makes it look like a college takes students with a higher GPA and SAT score than it really does. It may not be an impression that these colleges actually plan for; but they certainly do appreciate the blessing there is to appearing this way.

Typically, a student who takes this kind of deferred University Admission option doesn’t need to pay anything transparent. It’s just an agreement entered into with the college; academics advisors at the college will often even help the student choose college to go to first and to take University courses that will blend well with the courses she will choose once she finally gets to her college of original choice. It may hardly be entirely regular to admit students this way; but any scenario that gives more students a top-tier education for less money can only be a good thing.