College admission Early Decisions are starting to come out, and some students might get an unexpected answer back: a deferral or waitlist decision. The similarity is that both options place students in a sort of limbo state where they have to wait longer to see if they will be admitted to a college. When a school defers you, it means they see potential in your application during the early round, but the admission officers want to evaluate your application again during the Regular Decision cycle. Waitlisted, on the other hand, means the college has finished reviewing your application and their decision is to put you on the waiting list; you may be accepted later if space becomes available. Whether you're deferred or waitlisted, here are four steps you should take after receiving the news.
1. Decide if the school is still your top option
Is this university still your dream school or has anything changed since you sent in your application? Another college might actually be a better fit for you, and this deferment will open up your options. This is a chance to reconsider your college list—take a look and see which schools you still need to hear from, which ones you've received acceptances from, and what financial aid you've been offered. A better option may be waiting for you already!
2. Update your résumé and LinkedIn profile
Think about recent accomplishments, updated test scores, or accolades you may have achieved throughout the last couple of months. Add these to your high school résumé, but also add them to your LinkedIn profile and consider sending your link as supplementary material for when the school reconsiders your application. Your LinkedIn profile can also serve as a portfolio to add any research papers, pictures from service projects, or videos of your extracurricular activities.
3. Ask for another letter of recommendation
This may just tip the scales in your favor. Ask a supervisor from an internship, your manager at work, or a coach or teacher to write you an additional letter of recommendation. This recommendation should add something entirely new to your application. Make sure you ask someone who knows you well and you have a close relationship with—someone who can speak about the positive aspects of your personality.
4. Write a deferral letter
If you're still committed to attending this school, you should send a deferral letter, also known as a letter of continued interest. This letter should be about one page in length and demonstrate how and why you're a stronger candidate for the college than when you first applied. It’s important to be persuasive and to send the letter immediately.
How to write the letter
The deferral letter must express your continued interest in attending the school. In the first paragraph, convey why the school remains your top choice. Next, describe your most recent accomplishments. Update the admission officers on things that have occurred since you applied. You want to make your candidate profile stronger and showcase why you would be a great asset to the university. Some specific examples of things to highlight include:
- Higher scores on standardized tests
- Good grades in challenging courses
- Accomplishments in extracurricular activities like music, sports, National Honor Society, etc.
- Shadowing or volunteer hours
- Independent projects such as research
End the letter by restating why this particular university is the right fit for you. Don’t repeat things you’ve already mentioned in your supplemental essays or personal statement; be specific and personal. Once you've finished writing your letter, email it to the admissions office. Do not delay sending it!
Related: So You've Been Deferred: Now What?
Whether you are deferred or waitlisted, don't panic. Remember, you have not been denied yet. With these tips, you'll have a higher chance of turning your deferment or waitlist placement into an acceptance because it will showcase your growth and determination to attend the school that deferred you. Good luck!
Decided that deferral school isn’t the right fit after all? Use our College Search tool to find more options.