You’ve been deferred, now what?
When I applied to college over 25 years ago, there were two admissions cycles, either early decision or regular decision. Early decision was a way for you to commit to your first choice early and express your interest in the school. So much has changed since then, and I am often asked about the strategy around applying early action, early decision or regular decision. When I was applying to college, I applied early decision to Penn, was deferred, and spent my senior year of high school in overcharge trying to prove to the college that I deserved a second chance to be considered. Luckily for me, I received an acceptance letter, but it was not without a lot of diligence and work my senior year.
I was also fortunate to have a college counselor who knew his stuff (thanks dad!) and much of the advice I followed still applies today. Here are some tips to those of you who’ve been deferred to the regular admissions cycle.
1. Call the admissions office (or your regional admissions representative if there is one). I can’t stress enough how important a phone call is and not email here. Let the school know you were disappointed but would like to know what you can do to strengthen your application. Maintaining a personal connection with the school is key here.
2. Send a follow-up letter: sometime in early February, send the person you called a letter with the following:
a. Remind them who you are and that you called in January.
b. Remind the school that it’s still your top choice.
c. Include a few sentences on your accomplishments this year (not just grades, but a project or paper that you worked on).
d. If you’ve received any awards or had any successes that were not included in your application, include these.
e. Lastly: remind the school of why you are so awesome and what you will do to make an impact there if you are accepted. (Do not rehash your supplemental essay).
3. Work hard: the school you applied to will be reviewing your application again; you want to show your best effort.
4. Interview: if you have the opportunity to interview with an admissions rep or alumni interviewer, do it.
5. Mid year-report: make sure this gets sent to the school. If your school is using Naviance, this usually happens automatically, but it’s generally a good idea to let your counselor know your situation and communicate the importance of the report.
6. Show demonstrated interest: don’t forget your other schools! If ANY of the schools you are applying to are in your area, make an effort to see them. If the school is between you and another applicant that are similar, demonstrated interest can make the difference in an acceptance. Don’t become so enamored with school #1 that you forget about the other schools on your list.