Six Things to Do If You Are Deferred

Mid-December can be a harrowing time for high school seniors awaiting responses from their Early Decision and Early Action schools. While an acceptance is the most desirable result, and a rejection is understandably dreaded, these are not the only possible outcomes of an early application. The third, and least clear-cut outcome is deferral. Deferral simply means that the college has decided to postpone its admissions decision, and the applicant has been sent to the Regular Decision pool for re-evaluation. As the volume of early applications continues to grow each year, deferral is an increasingly common application outcome, and it is one that can often be confusing for students and parents.

I advise students and parents to remain optimistic when they receive a deferral, as it is not necessarily bad news. Perhaps the admissions committee wants to see an upward trend in the applicant’s grades or has doubts about her enthusiasm for the college. In a sense, deferral gives the applicant a second chance to make the desired impression on the college and should be seen as an opportunity rather than a death sentence.

Read on for my top tips for what you can do to make the most of a deferral:

1. Get cracking on Regular Decision applications.

Chances are, while waiting for the results of your early applications, you did not complete all of your Regular Decision applications. With two to three weeks to go until most colleges’ deadlines, you need to get moving! Waiting until the last minute only increases the chances of a shoddy final product. This is a good opportunity to take a final look at your college list, and add and/or subtract schools based on where you stand with your grades, final test scores, and academic interests.

2. Do not contract senioritis.

Now that you have been deferred to the Regular Decision applicant pool, your mid-year grades are crucial. The college will re-evaluate your candidacy alongside all the other Regular Decision applicants, and as such, you cannot let your grades slip. A poor academic showing in senior year is sure to tank any hopes of an acceptance letter come April.

3. Understand the school’s deferral policy and follow directions.

Some schools will welcome deferred applicants to send more information, while others strictly forbid sending further documents to the admissions office. Rather than sending things piecemeal, some colleges will only want you to fill out a mid-year progress report. As such, you must read the policy at the school(s) you have applied to closely, and be sure to adhere to it! If the school has a firm policy against sending further documents, you should ignore the rest of the tips below.

4. Send an email demonstrating interest.

If you have been deferred from a school that is high on your list, you should certainly not give up in your efforts to show that you are enthusiastic about attending. Once you have gotten over your initial disappointment, craft an articulate email to the admissions office expressing your continued interest in the college and emphasizing why it is the best fit for you. If it is your top choice, then definitely say so – though try to avoid sounding disingenuous.

5. Send another letter of recommendation.

It can often be helpful to send an extra recommendation from a teacher, coach or employer. If you are well acquainted with any alumni of the university, they could also be excellent candidates for a further recommendation. Do not inundate the admissions office with letters, but rather pick one person to share a unique perspective on your talents, achievements, and potential.

6. Share new information.

Be sure to update the college on things that might have changed since your initial application in November. Your school counselor will share some of this information, like your semester grades, in his or her mid-year report to the college. Positive developments in your extracurricular activities, such as recent awards or leadership positions, can be relayed in your letter to the admissions officer (mentioned above). In addition to this, you can also send new and improved standardized test scores, if applicable.