Dealing with Deferral

Don’t Panic Getting deferred does not mean you’re denied. Even the most competitive colleges accept a significant number of students who were deferred during the regular decision round. Keep your chin up and continue working hard.

Talk to Your Guidance Counselor Let your high school counselor know that you’ve been deferred from a college. He or she may have previous experience with the particular college and how it deals with deferrals. Perhaps he knows that Tufts has admitted deferred students who reached out to their regional admissions officer but that Brown hasn’t. Maybe the guidance counselor even has a relationship with some admissions officers who could put a good word in for you. Odds are your counselor won’t give you any new feedback, but he’s always a good starting point.

Demonstrate Interest If the college is genuinely your first choice, write a letter to the admissions office explaining that. Explain one more time a few reasons why you’re interested in the school. Ask if they can identify a reason why you were deferred. Was there a weakness in your test scores or GPA? Would they like you to submit a new piece of writing? Likely you’ll be given an address to send any new information to. If so, send this letter there. If not, send the information to your regional admissions officer by email. Be warned that most colleges will not give any feedback, but there’s no harm in politely reaching out just once and conveying your genuine interest.

Retest Were you test scores a relative weakness in your application? Retake the SAT or ACT in January or February and send your new scores to the college you were deferred from. But don’t retake without studying. Spend this month diligently preparing to improve your score.

Keep Your Grades Up Do whatever you can to stave off senioritis. Nail your finals and try to make your first semester grades as good as ever. This will demonstrate to colleges that you are continuing to develop intellectually and care about your academics.

Send Additional Materials Have you earned any new awards? Have you taken on a new leadership position? Have you written a better essay? When you send your first semester grades, also consider including the following:

  • New SAT or ACT scores
  • An additional recommendation
  • An update on any additional awards
  • Supplemental materials like a new essay, a creative writing sample, or a music sample

Be sure not to inundate the admissions office with too many materials. Only send supplemental materials if it really adds a new dimension to your application. If the new recommendation will be generic, then it’s probably not necessary to send. Did you win a really minor award? Don’t send it.

Listen to the College If the college requests that you do not send any additional materials, do not send additional materials. The worst thing you can do is irritate admissions officers.

Pursue Other Colleges Try not to get your heart set on one college. There are so many colleges that can be a great fit for you. Instead of fretting about the deferral, take the proactive steps mentioned above and then divert your attention to the rest of your applications. Get excited about the other schools you’re applying to.

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