Deferred? Former Admission Officers Reveal Next Steps

Founder, Winning Applications

Jan   2016



With most colleges accepting less than half of their Early Decision applicants (and many accepting less than 20%), many students, unfortunately, have found themselves in the deferred pool. Is it possible to improve one’s chance of admission?

Former admissions officers from, an online application review service that helps deferred students get admitted, agree that there are some things students can do between now and the end of February that may help move their applications to the “admit” pile. As founder of the website and a former Northwestern University admission officer, I can tell you that a deferral is not a denial, and it is possible to improve your chance of admission.

  1. Write a very brief letter to the admission representative. Acknowled the deferral and indicate that, although you're disappointed, the school still remains your top choice.
  2. Keep a list of any new accomplishments, awards, and improved grades. Those will provide additional strength to your application. Be mindful of directions from the school and how and when they want this information. Most of the former admission officers from suggest sending a letter or e-mail in late January with any updates, followed by a quick note at the end of February, stating “College X continues to be my first choice. Thank you for considering my application in the regular pool.”
  3. Don’t let senioritis hit too early! A strong showing in the classroom senior year is often the key to tipping the scales, and buckling down and studying is something that is in your direct control.
  4. Schedule an interview if you have not had one already. Be sure to practice your interview skills with a seasoned interviewer until you are confident your skills are strong.
  5. Find someone who is objective to give your application a fresh read. Even better is if that someone doesn’t know you, but knows college admission. Perhaps, unknowingly, you gave the wrong impression or neglected to include something important. This will enable you to send the school a clarification as well as head off a similar miscommunication with another school.
  6. Visit the campus again, if possible. Attend an information session and ask questions such as, “What percent of students are typically admitted after being deferred?” and “Is there anything I can do that might increase my chances of gaining admission?” This will earmark you as a deferred candidate and the admission representative may note your visit and strong school interest.
  7. Ask your college/school guidance counselor if there is anything they can do to help or if they have any suggestions.
  8. Being admitted after a deferral depends a good deal on the specific school. Read the letter closely and check online to see if the school has a history of accepting fewer early applicants and therefore your chances are better.
  9. It is still important not to put all your eggs in one basket—focus energy on the other schools on your list once you have completed the above tasks.’s admissions officers spent an average of eight years in the admissions officers of Georgetown, Columbia, Bowdoin, Ohio Wesleyan, Northeastern, College of the Holy Cross, Bates, Yale, and more.

Note: Did you know you could win a $10,000 scholarship for college or grad school just by registering on CollegeXpress? This is one of the quickest, easiest scholarships you’ll ever apply for. Register Now »

About Stephanie Klein Wassink

Stephanie Klein Wassink

Stephanie Klein Wassink is the founder of Winning Applications and Admissions Checkup. She is also a former admission officer and a long-time college counselor.