Many students who apply to college via Early Decision or Early Action find that they’ve been deferred. This means they’ve neither been accepted nor rejected – a sort of college purgatory.
Unlike a rejection, a deferral offers hope! You have not been rejected! The college is asking you to wait. However, you have work to do if you want to improve your chances of turning the ‘maybe’ into a ‘yes.’ Typically, a deferral means the college wants to compare you with the full applicant pool because your application did not shine enough for them to admit you early.
Here are some suggestions to improve your likelihood of college admissions:
Don’t panic. A deferral is not a rejection — the college saw something good and promising in your application.
Get information. Contact the school’s Admissions Office and see if you can find out why you were deferred. Ask to speak directly with an admissions counselor. This call should only last 4-5 minutes and your goal is to make great impression. But, first, make absolutely sure that the college doesn’t ask specifically for students NOT to call. You can find this on their website or by making a quick anonymous call a few hours or days before you make the important call. During the important call to the admissions officer, we suggest you do the following: 1) Politely ask why your application was deferred. Engage in a short conversation about it. Do not get angry or be defensive. 2) Ask for suggestions on how to turn your deferral into an acceptance. This is intelligence gathering, and many college admissions counselors will tell you exactly what they are looking for. 3) Reconfirm your desire to attend the school and your commitment to attend if you are accepted. If you aren’t sure what to say, contact your International College Counselors advisor for help.
Improve your standardized test scores. Get a tutor and up your scores, if at all possible. This is especially important if you think the scores you submitted don’t represent you. Call one of our advisors to be matched with a tutor who can work with you.
Send in your midyear grades if the college asks for them. Make sure you meet the college’s deadline. Many colleges strongly consider your senior year first semester grades, which is another reason why it’s important not to let your grades slide.
Write a letter. Sincerely express your continued interest in the school and why you believe it would be the perfect match for you. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be upbeat. Be interesting. Be positive. Do not come across as whiny, negative or insincere. Mention any new and meaningful accomplishments that happened after you sent in your application. Accomplishments can include new activities, new awards, or leadership positions.
Send in 1-2 strong and relevant additional recommendations. The best recommendations spotlight your unique qualities and why they make you an ideal match for a school. Do not send a generic recommendation. Before you send this, though, make sure you check to see if the college allows extra letters. Most schools will let you send them.
Let go. There is no one “perfect” school. Hope for the best, but prepare to go to one of your backup schools. Life is full of surprises and many students have been pleasantly surprised by going to a different school than what was originally planned.
Be proud of yourself. You’re on the right path to the rest of the great adventure called life.