By Christmas, thousands of Wolverine hopefuls across the nation had feverishly checked their inboxes, waiting for the block-‘M’-headed e-mail that would relieve weeks of sweaty palms, restless nights and an obsession with hitting “refresh” on their browsers.

As of Dec. 24, the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions finished releasing about 22,000 decisions on early action applications, a number up 3,000 from last year. With an increase in applicants, an acceptance letter was tougher to obtain.

While some students opened e-mails congratulating them on their acceptance to the University’s class of 2017, others scanned their pages to find the less-than-hoped-for response.

The deferral letter reads: “Given our surging application volume and very strong credentials of our applicants, admission to the University is becoming increasingly competitive. As a result, your application has been deferred for a final decision until a later date.”

Some applicants also received letters of denial, though deferrals are more common.

Although the University has not yet released precise data on the number of deferred students or the demographics of those accepted, Erica Sanders, Office of Undergraduate Admissions managing director, wrote in an e-mail interview that, “… any increase we may see in Early Action deferred decisions would be due to stronger qualifications among this year’s early applicant pool.”

Even with an increase in applications, Sanders wrote that each application received the standard “holistic” evaluation and was reviewed multiple times.

“The quality of the applicant pool remains strong even with the increase in applications, making our decisions even more difficult,” Sanders wrote.

And while the University granted hundreds of extensions to prospective students affected by Hurricane Sandy in late October, Sanders said her staff worked tirelessly to meet the decision deadlines for all applicants. No geographic or high school order is used, and it takes several days to send out all the decisions.

She added that decisions are only released once all applications have been processed.

“Our only concern in the release of decisions is to ensure accurate decisions are released without causing the system to crash due to the size of the file,” Sanders wrote.

Despite the added pressure associated with a greater volume of applications, University Provost Philip Hanlon expressed excitement about the growing number of applicants in an e-mail interview.

“As application numbers at some of our peer schools seem to be decreasing or flattening out, the continuing application increases to Michigan are very gratifying,” Hanlon wrote. “It affirms our standing as a really great school that provides some of the best-quality and most desirable educational opportunities in the country.”

Still, an increase in applications does not necessarily equate to a greater yield, which is the number of students who accept their admittance and enroll at the University.

In a September interview, Hanlon said the class of 2016’s freshman enrollment is the smallest since 2008. This decrease occurred in the same year that the number of total applications, including regular decision applicants, reached a record high with a 7.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Beyond the number of early action applications received, officials at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions declined to release or predict any indicators of the number of deferrals from this year or past years. The office has traditionally declined to release preliminary statistics before the next cycle of admissions.

“We are extremely pleased with how the 2012-2013 Early Action process went,” Ted Spencer, Office of Undergraduate Admissions executive director and associate vice provost wrote in a statement. “Beyond that, it is too early to analyze the type of trend questions … at this point.”

While admissions officials continue to review deferred decisions, the results are still sinking in at high schools like North Farmington High School, located about 25 miles from Detroit in Oakland County. While North Farmington may not be representative of overall admissions trends, it does provide insight into this year’s release of early action decisions. Last year, 42 students from a class of 350 accepted their admittance to the University.

“There were a number of students who were deferred that surprised us, which just goes to show that the level of competition is increasing every year,” North Farmington counselor Lynn Maher said.

At North Farmington, many students were taken aback by what seemed to be an increase in deferrals.

“I definitely feel as if more (students) got deferred than in any of the past years,” Morgan Kiryakoza, a deferred North Farmington senior who was deferred, said. “The reaction at North was shock. It seemed to shake the confidence of our grade as a whole.”

As in every admissions cycle, some students expected the decision they received.

“I was kind of expecting deferral,” Nick Kipper, a North Farmington senior, said. “My ACT score is low for Michigan, but I have a good GPA and tons of extracurricular (activities). Both of my brothers attended Michigan and were also deferred before their admittance.”

Despite deferred decisions, many students continue to hold out hope for acceptances when final decisions are released in early April.

And for these deferred students, as well as their counterparts across the country, the waiting game will continue.

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