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What to Do If You’re Deferred from Your Top-Choice College

Getting deferred from your top choice school is disappointing. But, don’t despair!

The competition in the early action/early decision applicant pool becomes increasingly intense year after year. In fact, many schools deny students in their early application cycle if the admissions committee feels that a candidate is not competitive enough. So, focus on the bright side. Being deferred gives you the opportunity to send additional information to your top choice school to strengthen your application in the regular round. The checklist below gives you some tips on you what can do when you are deferred.

1. As soon as possible, get the name of the representative who reads applications from your high school at your deferred college or university. Take the opportunity to get in touch with that individual, asking for advice on what you can do to improve your application in the regular decision round. Heed their advice. Your job is to listen closely and not to argue the admission’s committee decision. This is a great opportunity for you to make a personal connection with your admissions officer so make sure that you leave a positive impression. Genuinely show your commitment to your top choice school and indicate that if you are admitted, you intend to enroll.

2. By February 1st, write a one-page letter addressed to the Dean of Admissions. You should also send copies to your admissions representative and anyone else in the school that you have corresponded with. Your letter should implement the following:

  • Re-state your reasons why that school best fits your academic and personal needs. Make references to specific professors, courses, extra-curricular activities and research opportunities that show your knowledge of the school.
  • Update your school on all the achievements you have made, both inside and outside of the classroom, since you submitted your Early Action/Decision application.
  • Be upbeat and do not show signs of disappointment or frustration.

3. If you have not visited your top choice school, take the opportunity to visit the campus before March 1st. A campus visit can help you decide if the college is truly for you. During your campus visit, see if you can schedule the following.

  • A face-to-face meeting with your admissions representative.
  • Sit in on classes and have the opportunity to meet with a professor before or after class.
  • Have lunch in the campus dining center to meet with current students.

4. By March 1st, make sure your first choice school receives.

  • A mid-year report with fall semester grades.
  • An official score report from the SAT/ACT that shows any new test scores that you might have taken since you submitted your original application.
  • An another e-mail to your admissions representative reminding him or her about your application and interest in the college. Make sure this is different from the letter you sent on February 1st.
  • Continue to pursue your second or third choice schools. Even though showing sincere interest may help your application at your first choice school, it is still possible that the admissions committee may not admit you in April. It is hard to predict the nuances of the application pool that affects how the admission’s committee reviews your application.

So don’t give up hope, there’s still plenty that you can do after being deferred. Good luck!


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