Too many applicants who applied early this fall are finding they’ve been neither accepted nor rejected, but deferred to a much larger regular admissions pool. And this is not a particularly happy place to be, especially if you were counting on having the college admissions thing totally wrapped up by winter break.
But there’s really not much sense in dwelling on the negative. Think of the deferral as an opportunity to explore other options. And although there are no guarantees, continuing the campaign for admission to the college that deferred you will sometimes work in your favor.
After the initial shock is past, take stock of the situation and make a plan, preferably in consultation with your school counselor or an independent educational consultant with whom you’ve been working. Once you decide to press your case, it’s usually advisable to provide new information in the way of grades, scores and accomplishments. Note that it’s very important to follow directions, which should be clearly outlined on the school website or in the notice of deferral.
But not every college specifically states what it is they want in the way of follow-up. Some are coy and general about the kinds of information they’d like to see, preferring to leave it to the imagination of applicants wishing to demonstrate continued interest or improve their odds for admission. Others specifically list the materials they’d like to see and the process by which they should be submitted. Most colleges encourage continued communication, especially with regional representatives.
Still others, like the University of Virginia, warn against sending additional information or making contact with the admissions office. This approach is more the exception than the rule and may be subject to some flexibility—even for UVa.
There are some consistent ‘themes’ in the advice provided by different colleges to students they deferred. One that often surprises applicants is how much they are encouraged to retake standardized tests in January or February. This is usually not welcome news for students who thought they were finished with all that!
In any event, the following is a sample of the many ways colleges and universities want to hear from students deferred:
You may certainly let us know if there is a significant accomplishment or a noteworthy change in your circumstances, but it is not necessary to amend your application as a matter of course. Remember that a deferral does not mean that an applicant has fallen short in terms of qualification for admission. Make sure that your counselor has the Mid-Year Report form so we can receive your fall term grades and any updates your school would like to provide. http://www.brown.edu/admission/undergraduate/ask?faq_category=All
College of William and Mary
As a deferred student, your application will automatically be reviewed again, in its entirety, during our Regular Decision review process in the spring….Over the coming weeks, you are welcome to send us any new academic information (first-semester grades, updated standardized test scores) as well as any high-level awards or significant accomplishments not included in your original application. You can also send us a letter/email/statement of continued interest. If you elect to send us such a statement, this does not have to be anything overly elaborate. This should simply be a few paragraph explanation of why you feel like William & Mary is the best fit for you. Whenever we receive such materials (academic information, awards accomplishments, statements of continued interest, etc.) we make sure to file everything appropriately with your application. http://wmblogs.wm.edu/admiss/decisions-decisions-early-decision-2016-edition/
When Early Decision and Early Action applicants are deferred, the admissions committee is requesting new information to be used in reconsidering your application in the Regular Deadline program. While receiving a deferred decision may be disappointing, receipt of new information in the form of mid-year grades or updated standardized test scores provides you the opportunity to be considered for admission in the final pool. https://www.elon.edu/e/admissions/undergraduate/apply/path-of-a-first-year-application.html
Students who are deferred to Regular Decision should send first semester senior grades from their high school and any new application information. http://apply.emory.edu/apply/ed.php
Early Action admission is offered to a limited number of students, those whom the Admissions Committee is certain they would offer admission based on information from freshman, sophomore and junior years only. Deferred students are strongly encouraged to maintain high senior year grades and submit any new information, such as standardized test scores, new honors or awards. https://uadmissions.georgetown.edu/firstyear/early-action#10
Some Early Decision applicants who are not offered acceptance at that time will be deferred to the Regular Decision admission pool and their application will be reviewed again. Additional semester grades or new test scores may be submitted for students deferred to Regular Decision.
Johns Hopkins University
You are not required to submit any additional materials. However, if you would like to, you may submit supplemental materials to your application file for review during the RD selection process. This information could be additional standardized test results, your senior year semester grades, additional letters of recommendation, an updated rèsumè, or an additional written statement of your interest in Johns Hopkins. https://apply.jhu.edu/apply/faq/early-decision/
The only “new” thing you need to send in is the February Updates & Notes form. You’ll use the FUN form to tell us your midyear grades and anything new that has happened or will happen. As always, you can send us stuff via fax (617-687-9184) or mail, but the FUN form is the best way to update us. The FUN form is due by February 15th.
You may still submit a supplemental portfolio, but you do not need to; I would only consider this if you were planning to do so during EA but ran out of time. If you are retaking tests in December or January, you may also designate MIT as a score recipient, and we’ll add them to your application.
You may not rewrite your essays, redo your interview, redo your entire application…anything like that. We deferred you because we want to reconsider your application (the one you have already sent) in RA. http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/tips-for-the-ea-deferred
The best thing you can do after being deferred is to keep the Admission Office updated with new information since the original submission of your application. We must have your senior mid-year grade report sent from your high school to Rice. We invite you to tell us about your continued interest in Rice along with details of any new awards, accolades, or accomplishments. Additions to your file should be directly from you, the student. Please do not send additional letters of recommendation from school officials, Rice alumni, or others. Send any updates via your Rice Admission Student Portal (preferred) or email to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2017. http://futureowls.rice.edu/futureowls/defer_faq.asp
DO: Contact your admission counselor and let him or her know you are interested in Tulane. You can reach out to your admission counselor here. You’ll want to shoot him or her an e-mail in the coming weeks (not necessarily today… let the dust settle and your emotions subside) letting them know that you have been deferred and that you remain strongly interested in Tulane. Let your counselor know that you’ll send your first semester grades and also feel free to let him or her know that Tulane is very high on your list. It will be nearly impossible to be admitted to Tulane if you do not, in some form, reach out to us. We’d like to only take those students who we know want to enroll here.
DO: Send us an essay about why you are interested in enrolling at Tulane, if you have not already done so. See the prompt on the application for admission. Tell us why you would be a great fit here, and why Tulane is a great fit for you. Do some research. Many times, we defer students who are academically qualified to be admitted, but we are unsure of their interest level. So reach out and let us know.
DO: Send us some additional materials. You are welcome to send us a new resume, essay, your first semester grades, an art or music portfolio, a new SAT or ACT score, etc. While some of the smaller things may not make a big difference, an increase on your SATs, or a nice well-written essay all about your Tulane visit can go a long way. Mid year reports are recommended for deferred students. Again, keep in mind, unless its a major change in extracurricular activities, it won’t change too much (same goes for additional teacher recommendations). The biggest changemaker will be new test scores. http://tuadmissionjeff.blogspot.com/2011/12/ive-been-deferred-now-what.html
University of Chicago
If you applied through the Early Action or Early Decision I application plans, your application may be deferred. This means that the admissions committee wants to review it again in the context of the Regular Decision pool. Your application will be automatically rolled over to the Regular Decision round, and you do not need to reapply or submit additional application materials. If you would like, you can reach out to your regional admissions counselor to express your continued interest in attending UChicago. https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/application/application-plans
U Mass Amherst
Applicants who were deferred from Early Action will receive a second review at the end of March. Make sure that any new academic information (mid-semester grades, higher test scores, etc.) has been sent to us by March 1. Please do not send duplicate information or additional recommendations. Visiting or contacting the Admissions Office will not enhance your chance of being admitted. https://www.umass.edu/admissions/apply/dates-and-deadlines/early-action-faqs
University of Michigan
We know being deferred isn’t the response you were hoping for. We truly appreciate your interest in the University of Michigan. Right now, you simply need to be patient, and keep striving to do your best in school. We also request that your high school counselor submit an official copy of your 7th semester grades (or 1st trimester grades) through the Common Application so that these courses may be used in the evaluation process. https://umich.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2080
University of Notre Dame
1. Our office encourages deferred students to keep us updated with any changes to their application. The most important piece is sending us your first semester senior year grades. Many high school counselors will do this automatically, but if not, this should be a top priority. The Admissions Committee wants to see that students are maintaining a strong academic performance throughout their senior year, particularly if the applicant is taking high level courses. Any changes in GPA or class rank can also be helpful to our evaluation process.
2. You may also update us to any significant extra-curricular accomplishments or awards that you receive in the coming months. The easiest way to do this is to email this information to either your regional Admissions Counselor or to email@example.com.
3. You do not need to submit any additional letters of recommendation. We generally do not encourage letters of recommendation beyond the required academic teacher letter and optional counselor letter, which you submitted with your original application. Of course, if any additional letters are submitted on your behalf, they will be added to your file.
4. If Notre Dame is truly one of your first choice schools, you may also write a letter of desire explaining why you believe Notre Dame is the best school for you. You may send this letter directly to your Regional Admissions Counselor and he or she will be sure to add it to your admissions file. This letter of desire is a useful opportunity to tell the Admissions Committee a little bit more about you and to explain why you would like to attend Notre Dame.
University of Pennsylvania
…deferred applicants contact the admissions office during the regular decision round with any updates to their applications — new awards, test scores or even additional letters of recommendation — though applicants should not exaggerate their accomplishments in an attempt to impress the admissions office.
“They can demonstrate their interest and update us with only one communication, however they would like to do that….I just don’t want them to feel like they have to create some other persona.” http://www.thedp.com/article/2015/02/advice-for-deferred-applicants
University of Richmond
There are two main reasons that we defer applications to RD. In the majority of cases, the committee simply wants to see these applications in the context of the entire applicant pool, before we make a final decision. In some cases, however, there may be something specific the committee wants to see – for example, your full first semester grades, if your first quarter grades were of concern or if you had a significant dip in your junior year and the committee wants to see a full semester’s recovery. Deferred students should feel free to contact their regional counselor and ask if there’s anything more they can do to improve their application in Regular Decision; just keep in mind that nine times out of ten, the answer will be no, the committee just wants to review your application in light of the whole applicant pool. Every year there are deferred students who are admitted in Regular Decision (though you are no longer bound by the ED contract, in that event).
Do: Keep up the hard work to maintain a strong academic record in your senior year. Don’t be discouraged by a deferral; it’s not a negative comment on your abilities or potential. Let this add fuel to the fire to motivate you to show the admission committee that you are capable of maintaining the strong record you have already set forth in your initial application. We’d love to see all A’s and B’s in the senior year.
Do: Ask yourself if you are comfortable with your test scores. Scores are certainly not the exclusive deciding factor in any application, but they can influence a decision. If you’re comfortable with your scores, awesome! If not, perhaps consider a January test date. This may be a good opportunity to try your hand at the SAT versus the ACT, or vice versa. http://admissionblog.richmond.edu/?assetid=e7f692edac1c04197a01ff7e32ce8f28
University of Virginia
If you were deferred from Early Action to Regular Decision it means that we feel your application deserves another review. You possess many of the strengths we expect our admitted students to present in their applications but we cannot offer you admission at this stage. In many cases we want to see how deferred students are doing in the classroom during their senior year.
Please send any updated testing to our admission office as soon as it becomes available. We will review your application again in Regular Decision. Please be sure to forward new test results immediately.
Other than midyear grade updates or new standardized test results, we will not be able to review any edits to your application or additional information. Please do not send additional information, including recommendations, during this time. http://admission.virginia.edu/defer
If you are deferred, sending certain additional materials may be helpful to the College during the next round of the decision-making process. You may want to send us your most up-to-date grades, a list of any recent special honors or awards you have received, or any helpful information you may not have provided with your initial application. An additional recommendation may also be helpful. If you have been deferred and you are not sure exactly what to send, just contact us and we’ll help you decide. https://www.wellesley.edu/admission/faq#defer#bJCiqZOSeCHu6gD4.97
Nancy Griesemer is an independent educational consultant and founder of College Explorations LLC. She has written extensively and authoritatively about the college admissions process and related topics since 2009. Never miss one of Nancy’s articles – subscribe to her mailing list below.