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What to do if you've been deferred?

by Will Geiger, on Dec 23, 2019 10:31:00 AM

...But we had more qualified applicants than we can admit.

Your decision will be postponed until the Regular Decision round.

We recognize that this is not the answer you were hoping for...

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be one of the many students deferred by your Early Decision or Early Action college. Deferral means that the admissions committee will move your application to the Regular Decision round and delay their final decision of yes or no.

But don’t worry! Story2 is here to help you navigate deferral. If deferred students are in the admissions version of purgatory, like Dante in Purgatorio, then consider us Virgil, guiding you to acceptance at the college of your choice. While there are no guarantees in the admissions process, there are certainly some practical steps that you can take to make a strong admissions case for yourself. 

First and foremost, you need to continue to keep up strong work in the classroom. One major reason that students are deferred is that the college admissions officer wants to see more academic work (or for you to pick up your grades). So if you’re sitting with a C+ in calculus on your transcript, do everything possible to get that grade up before the admissions office considers your application again.

The other critical task for you to complete is what we call the “January letter.” The January letter is your opportunity to make your case for admissions in your own voice. This letter doesn’t need to be sent via the postal service—just send an email directly to your regional admissions representative. (We recommend CCing the general admissions email address, too.) Here are a few things to keep in mind as you write your letter:

  • It’s all about the fit

Reiterate why the college in question is a great fit for you. Be specific—talk about the specific attributes that you are attracted to. Remember that “fit” goes two ways: you’ll want to highlight how you plan on contributing and adding value to the college and campus community. 

  • Include any relevant updates

What’s changed for you recently? Did you win a creative writing award? Started a new club at school? Several months have passed since you submitted your Early Decision or Early Action application, and you may have some updates to share with the admissions office. Share only the most important updates, focusing on the specific, measurable results of your impact. For instance, if you earned a Gold Award as a Girl Scout you should be specific about the project that you completed. Something like “I created an ESL curriculum to teach English at my local library and trained 5 volunteers to teach” will give the admissions officer a better sense of what exactly your Gold Award entailed. 

  • If the college is your first choice, say it!

Generally, if you apply Early Decision, you’re saying that the college you’re applying to is your first choice. When you’re deferred, though, that can certainly change—you’ll now be applying to other colleges. However, if the college in question is still your tip-top first choice, then say so in the January letter! (If you were deferred from multiple colleges, it’s a bad idea to say this in every letter you write, for obvious reasons.)

You might also ask, “What about extra recommendations, or writing samples?”

This is a fair question, but we tend to believe that less is more. Unless the extra recommendation introduces important new information, it’s unlikely to make much of a difference. The same goes for additional essays and writing samples: your application essays already include all the information that admissions officers need. 

A thoughtful, personalized letter will go a long way to making your admissions case. By following these three tips, you’ll ensure that your letter is as impactful as possible. Best of luck!

Topics:college admission