Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What To Do If Your Early Application Is Deferred

Many students who applied either Early Action or Early Decision this year are finding they have been neither accepted nor rejected, but deferred to the regular admissions pool. If you’re in this position, know you’re not alone. Because a surprising number of colleges and universities experienced an uptick early applications, it stands to reason that unless acceptances increase, you have lots of company—mostly disappointed.

Keep this in mind: just because you’ve been deferred doesn’t mean you’ll never get in. Consider it a kind of holding pattern. Colleges are sending a signal that they need to know a little more about you before making a final decision. You can either respond or withdraw into a tiny shell of self-pity. I recommend responding. And here’s how:

1. Don’t crash. There’s no question this is a setback. It’s normal to feel disappointment, but don’t let it be crippling. This is not the time to slack off or otherwise jeopardize your GPA and class standing. Most importantly, don’t let this minor bump in the road delay completion of the rest of your applications. Finish those essays and try to submit your applications a couple of weeks in advance of their due dates.

2. Contact Admissions. Try calling the admissions representative for your area. He or she most likely read and is familiar with your application. Remember that it’s an incredibly busy time of year for admissions, but if you’re lucky you might be able to get more personal feedback and a sense of how your application stacked up against the rest of the early application pool. You might also get some ideas on how to improve your candidacy by clarifying misunderstandings or by submitting additional test results, information, or recommendations. Do not give in to the temptation to complain or badger the staff.

3. Update your application. Although colleges generally require mid-year grades sent by your high school, take the initiative to forward a copy of your most recent report card with a cover letter addressed to the Dean of Admissions and copied to your area representative. In the cover letter, restate your commitment to attend if admitted—only if that’s truly the case. Include reference to any new and improved standardized test scores, any new leadership positions in a group or team, new membership in an organization, any specific events or community service activities in which you have been involved, and any special awards you have received. If appropriate, send supplementary materials such as an additional writing sample or essay. Remember that colleges are looking for an upward trend in grades and really only want to know what’s happened since you submitted your original application.


I am an educational consultant in private practice advising families on day/boarding schools, college admissions, schools for teens and young adults who have emotional/behavioral problems, learning issues, neurological and psychiatric problems.

This blog is dedicated to the wonderful students and families who come to me for advice on school placement. I will try to post information that is related to Texas and national college admissions, as well as information related to topics of interest in the field of education. We will address a variety of issues and trends in college admissions, boarding schools or programs who serve students with special needs.

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