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How to Handle a Deferral

Seniors who applied Early Action or Early Decision have been receiving admission decisions over the last few weeks. Acceptance or denial is clear enough, but how should you deal with a deferral? First, you need to decide if you care enough to even respond to the deferral. Have you already been accepted to a college that you feel is a better fit for you? If so, you can just ignore the deferral.

However, if you are still interested in a college by which you were deferred, here are some Do’s and Don’ts:

You should: Be pro-active. If you care about attending the school, let them know; that means don’t be silent. Read their communication carefully and follow the instructions. Do what they tell you to do and don’t do what they tell you not to do. Don’t send additional letters of recommendation if they specifically state to NOT do so; you will pay the price. If allowed, a letter from someone who has seen you do something wonderful can add another dimension to your file.

Send new information. A deferral is a great opportunity to share new information with a college or university. If you have an update on first semester grades, new test scores, new award(s), new employment, a new leadership role—let your admission rep know.

Create a strong letter to the Admission Office. Articulate why you are still interested in their college. If you don’t know the admission representative who handles your high school, try to find out and contact that person directly.

Stay upbeat. Don’t come across as angry, threatening or bitter in your letter. Remember you are still applying for ad-mission (i.e., they still hold all the cards.)

Consider a campus visit. If you’ve never visited the campus this is especially important. If you have previously visited and choose to revisit, make sure you try to do something during the upcoming visit that allows you to have a meaningful interaction with students or faculty at the college or university.

You shouldn’t: Be a pest. It’s important to be pro-active, but don’t stalk the Admission Office and hound them with multiple emails each week.

Be desperate. Don’t fawn unnecessarily and share too many sentiments that make you sound as if you are unreasonably devastated by the deferral.

Send superfluous information. Be judicious about what you choose to share. Don’t send multiple extra letters of recommendation. Don’t send gifts/bribes.

Compare yourself to others. You might hear about another student who was accepted, whom you feel was less qualified. Don’t share that information with the admission office.

Most importantly, it is time to be pro-active, but it is also time to be realistic. Consider adding one or two more ‘safer’ colleges to your Regular Decision list. If you are still steadfast in your interest in a school that has deferred your application and will re-read it with their RD applications, then follow through with the above items, but think realistically about your other options. Take a deeper look at the colleges that have told you they want you and find the programs there in which you could really thrive, shine and enjoy a successful college experience.

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