December is the season of deferrals! A deferral is when a college moves an Early Action or Early Decision applicant to the Regular Decision Round – waiting to make an admissions decision, in other words.
If you get deferred from a college to which you applied EA or ED, there are things you can do to increase your chances of admission in the Regular Decision round.
First, remember that a deferral is not a NO, it’s just a NOT SURE YET from the college, which means there are things you can do to strengthen your chances. Deferrals are not necessarily bad news – it means you get another shot in the regular round. It means that the school considers you a strong candidate and wants to see how you “stack up” against the full pool of applicants. In the past few years, it has also become VERY common for colleges to defer applicants that they suspect are not interested enough to actually attend; they move the applicant to the Regular round and then gauge their level of interest as time goes on.
To increase your chances of being admitted, it’s very important that you make your continued interest clear to the school. If the school that deferred you is a top choice, you have to let them know that you are highly likely to attend if admitted.
First, if you received specific instructions from the college along with the deferral – read their instructions closely and use any special forms they provide. Some colleges have an update space in the portal for this reason. And if what the college requests contradicts anything of the advice in this blog, always follow the college’s instructions.
Next, I recommend sending a nicely written email to the admissions office or your local representative, talking about why the school is a top choice and why you are a good fit. Don’t go overboard, just a paragraph or two will suffice. If you wrote this for a supplement already, it can be a revised version detailing the same reasons or adding new information.
In addition, you can share information about any new accomplishments that showcase your continued involvement with extracurriculars and dedication to academics. This shows that you aren’t slacking off in senior year after submitting applications, which many students do. If you have started doing additional activities that are impressive, let them know. If you win any awards, let them know. Share worthwhile stuff without going overboard or being pesky.
Also, make sure your school counselor sends your first semester grades. It is critical that colleges see you are staying strong academically in senior year, as this is the best indicator of how you’ll do in college.
Tulane’s blog has a really nice write up of how to approach an EA deferral. The advice they give here is relevant for all colleges.
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