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Getting Deferred: Why It Happens and What to Do Next

High school senior considers what to do after getting a deferral from her top-choice school

While it is disappointing not to have an acceptance in hand, a deferral does not mean that you’re out of the admissions race! In fact, a deferral should be considered a second chance to highlight your strengths and what you have accomplished during your senior year.

What Does Being Deferred Mean? 

You might feel like you’ve been rejected if you receive a deferral, but all it means is that your application will be reviewed again in the Regular Decision round. There is nothing wrong with your application, but you may need to submit more information to the admissions committee.

So Why Was I Deferred?

While applying to a college or university in the early round is a great way to demonstrate your interest and your intent to enroll upon admission, sometimes schools need more time to make a decision on particular applicants.

Often, applicants are deferred because the school wants the opportunity to see how students will utilize their last year of high school, if they’re maintaining (or improving) their grades, and accomplishing other milestones through their extracurricular involvement. This isn’t a bad thing — it’s something that can be used to your advantage.

Also, the number of students applying Early Decision and Early Action has been steadily increasing each year. A deferral, while disconcerting, is not the end of the world. Here’s what you can do to plan ahead and improve your chances of turning a deferral into an acceptance in the Regular Decision round.

Make a Plan of Action with Your Counselor Before Receiving Your Decision

Most students who apply early don’t plan ahead for a deferral. Many are mentally preparing for an acceptance or rejection, but because a deferral is more confusing, some students choose to cross that bridge only if they come to it. However, once decisions are released, your counselor will probably be swamped with other students seeking guidance.

At least a week or two before this time, sit down with your counselor and discuss what your plan of action will be for each scenario. Then, as soon as you know the date your decision will be released, make an appointment to meet with your counselor for the following day to revisit your options and set your plan into motion.

Write a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI) or Deferral Letter

You need to let the school know that it is still your top choice. In your letter of continued interest, express your sustained interest in the institution and reassure the admissions office that you still plan to attend if admitted in the regular round. This might help put you ahead of some of the regular applicants they feel might not enroll if admitted.

However, if you’re having second thoughts about the institution as your ultimate top-choice school, don’t be disingenuous just for the sake of collecting another acceptance. Instead, write that the school “remains a top choice,” and remember, if the school specifically asks deferred students NOT to write a letter, don’t.

See if Your Counselor Can Place a Call to the Admissions Office

Unless the school explicitly tells you not to, have your college counselor give the admissions office a call to find out how close you came to admission. Generally, admissions officers are very open about what may have placed you in the regular round and what more they want to see from you. This often turns out to be senior year grades.

Listen to your school counselor’s feedback and take it to heart — if they say they want to see a consistent rise in your first and second semester grades, make sure you’re focusing on your studies.

Send Additional Materials

This can be a reaffirming note from your counselor with mid-year grades or updates on what you have been working on since submitting your application. If you can, find someone else who did not write you a letter of recommendation when you initially submitted your application (a teacher, employer, or otherwise). Any extra voices of support can help strengthen your application in the regular round. Again, if the school specifically requests you NOT send additional materials, don’t.

Stay Positive!

If you created a balanced college list, you should still have several great-fit schools as options! Take time to reflect on the other institutions to which you are applying or weighing acceptances and reassess how much you really want to attend the school that deferred you.

If you need additional help with a deferral, our team of expert counselors can help identify what may have kept you from being admitted in the early round, assist in drafting a deferral letter, and come up with a plan of action for the rest of the school year. Contact us today for more information.

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