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Dealing With Deferrals

Early decision, early action and priority applicants receive admission decisions on a time frame that coincides with the holidays. Some will be thrilled with acceptance, others disappointed by rejection, and still others left in limbo by a letter deferring the decision until a later time. While disappointing, a deferral is actually a “maybe”; it’s up to you now to convince your chosen college that you really are an excellent candidate for admission.


Colleges generally defer applicants because they still need more information to make a decision. Sometimes, the applicant’s grades may be in question; the admission committee would like to see some senior year grades before acting on your application. A strong showing in challenging senior classes will help sway the committee to “accept”. Have your midyear grades sent as soon as they are available. Be sure to tell your school counselor about any new achievements so she can include mention of these in her mid-year report.


Or perhaps, the college would really like to see higher SAT or ACT scores. If you’ve retaken the SAT or ACT this winter, have the testing agency send the new scores to the college. If you have applied Test Optional this year, inquire if additional information might be helpful. Another strong recommendation letter (perhaps from a senior year teacher or an employer), copies of articles you’ve written for the newspaper, or other more recent evidence of achievement could be sent in support of your application. Just be sure that you read the college’s deferral letter carefully; it will state exactly what type of information they would welcome. Follow their lead.


Sometimes, the decision was determined by circumstances that are beyond your control. The college may be looking to increase diversity or, perhaps, had too many qualified applicants from your region. You can still influence the final decision by letting “Deferral U.” know how interested you are in attending. Write directly to the admission officer in charge of your region, expressing your continued interest in attending and asking if any additional information would be helpful. A call from your school counselor to the college could provide you with insight into the reasons behind the deferral. Don’t give up, but rethink all of your college options—there are many colleges that can provide a perfect fit.

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