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What Can I Do If I Was Deferred From My Top College?

So, you were deferred by your top-choice school. What can you do to increase your odds of admission? Read on for a few tips from an expert.

Stephanie Klein WassinkStephanie Klein Wassink
Founder
Winning Applications
Unfortunately, even many of the most talented students sometimes get a college deferral. What exactly is a deferral, and what is the best way to manage one? Aside from a number of stand-out applicants who do receive early admission, a number of suitable candidates may be deferred so that the admission committee can consider them in light of the total applicant pool. When a student is deferred, they'll receive an “admit” or “deny” decision at the same time as Regular Decision applicants. Upon receiving a deferral, it's possible to improve one’s chances of admission. Here are just a few helpful suggestions:

  • If you have not interviewed, now is the time to do it, preferably on campus. Make sure you practice your interview skills with a seasoned interviewer until you are confident that your skills are strong.
  • Visit the campus again and attend an information session often given by a member of the admissions committee. 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?” Not only will this earmark you as a deferred candidate, but the information session speaker may note your visit and strong school interest in your application file. When your application is re-evaluated, that interest will shine through. Since schools are more inclined to extend offers to students they believe will accept admission, this is critical.
  • Keep the admission committee abreast of any new accomplishments on a regular basis, but don't just tell them about any little thing. Make sure it's significant.
  • Ask someone who hasn't read your application to read it and offer constructive criticism. My site AdmissionsCheckup.com, a network of former admission officers, will review your application and give you a fresh perspective on why you were deferred/waitlisted. Perhaps, unknowingly, you gave the wrong impression or neglected to include something important. Not only will you hopefully be able to “fix it” by sending the school some clarification, but you may also be able to head off a similar miscommunication at another school.

Given the competitive nature of college admission, it's smart to research and apply Regular Decision to other schools. While a deferral is far from ideal, if properly managed, it can still lead to admission.

You can find a lot more quick advice on the college application process in our College Admission—Ask the Experts section.

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