4 Things To Do If Deferred From Your Top College

If you applied to one or more colleges under Early Action and/or Early Decision admission plans, you are likely anxiously waiting for a decision. You may learn that your application has neither been accepted nor rejected, but deferred. This means that it has been converted to a regular application, and will be reviewed again in a few months.

My general recommendation to students who are deferred is to try to psychologically move on if possible. However, if you have your heart set on a certain college, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted in the regular round:

1. Sending an email notifying the admissions office that you will attend if you are admitted may increase your chances of being accepted. While it’s important to demonstrate interest in this way, I suggest that you wait until after the New Year and then email, call or even visit, if you can. Many students who have been deferred call colleges as soon as they have released the results from their early rounds, and admissions offices are often very hectic at this time. The admissions staff needs a holiday too.

2. If you have won any awards or anything substantial has happened to you since you first sent in your application (such as winning a science or music competition), this is a great time to inform the school. If there is a particular class in which you excelled and that maybe stands out from your typical academic performance, perhaps you would tell the schools about your grades. In the email, you should explain your rationale for applying to that particular school, why you are a good fit, and what makes the school a top choice for you. If possible, inform the college of why attending that institution would help you meet your academic and educational goals, and mention specifically which programs you would participate in if admitted.

3. Ideally, you should visit the campus again and personally meet with someone in admissions. If you can arrange for an interview, even better. While it’s expensive to travel, if you are really committed to one college and want to spend the next four years there more than anything, showing up and telling the office is a good idea if you are hoping to be accepted in the regular round. Your visit signals to the college that you are serious about attending the institution.

4. Arranging for an additional letter of recommendation to be sent on your behalf could also help dramatically. You never know if just one teacher’s powerful words can push your application over the edge.

While it’s disappointing to be deferred, there are still ways to improve your chances. Do your best to demonstrate to the college that you will enroll if accepted, as colleges are extremely interested in accepting students who are most likely to enroll. Even if you don’t get into your “dream” school in the regular round, remember that there are a number of colleges -- not just one -- at which you may thrive.

With more than 25 years of experience working with hundreds of high school students, Jill possesses a wealth of knowledge about the college admissions process, and believes the process should be exciting. Jill helps by working closely with each student on college selection, creating a vibrant and authentic resume, planning meaningful and appropriate summer activities, creating personalized testing strategies, brainstorming essay ideas and techniques, building interview skills, reviewing scholarship opportunities, and more. Most importantly, Jill eases the stress and helps students feel confident about the college planning and selection process.


Schedule a time to ask Jill your questions or hire her to speak to a group in your community. Working with Jill will provide you a greater understanding of the college application process and, more importantly, a feeling of confidence rather than confusion.

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