Early College Decisions

deferredAt the end of December, many students who applied to college Early Decision or Early Action are finding that they’ve been neither accepted nor rejected, but deferred. If you find yourself in this limbo, here are some guidelines for how to proceed.

1. Don’t Panic ~ Most likely, if you’ve been deferred your credentials are in the ballpark for getting accepted. If they weren’t, you’d be rejected. However, your application wasn’t so far above average that the college wanted to give up a spot in the entering class until they could compare you to the full applicant pool. The percentages vary from college to college, but many students do get accepted after being deferred.

     2. Find Out Why You Were Deferred ~  Unless the college asks you not to do so, give the admissions office a call and try to find out why you were deferred. Be polite and positive when making this call. Try to convey your enthusiasm for the college, and see if there were particular weaknesses in your application that you might be able to address. Some early applicants are deferred because they did not show enough interest in the college prior to submitting the application. Could this be you?

3. Update Your Information ~ Chances are the college will ask for your midyear grades. If you were deferred because of a marginal GPA, the college will want to see that your grades are on an upward trend. Also, think about other information that might be worth sending:

  • New and improved SAT or ACT scores
  • A new leadership position in a group or team
  • A new honor or award

4waitlist_FAQ. Send a New Letter of Recommendation ~ Is there someone who knows you well who can really promote you effectively? If so, an additional letter of recommendation might be a good idea. However, make sure the college allows extra letters. Ideally, this letter should talk about the specific personal qualities that make you an ideal match for the particular college that has deferred you. A generic letter won’t be nearly as effective as a letter that explains why you are a good match for your first-choice college.

5. Send Supplemental Materials ~ Many applications, including the Common Application, provide the opportunity for sending in supplemental materials. You don’t want to overwhelm the admissions office, but you should feel free to send in writing or other materials that will show the full breadth of what you can contribute to the campus community.

6. Be Polite ~ As you try to get out of deferral limbo, you’re likely to correspond with the admissions office several times. Try to keep your frustration, disappointment and anger in check. Be polite. Be positive. Admissions officers are remarkably busy this time of year, and their time is limited. Thank them for any time they give you. Also, make sure your correspondence doesn’t become pesky or harassing.

7. Have a Back-Up ~ While many deferred students do get accepted during regular admissions, many do not. You should do all you can to get into your top choice school, but you should also be realistic. Make sure you have applied to a range of reach, match and safety colleges so that you will have other options should you get a rejection letter from your first choice.

If you have been deferred but have new information to present to the college, you’ll want to write a letter presenting the updates.

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