Many highly selective colleges defer early applicants if they want to evaluate them alongside their regular pool of applicants. Usually this means they have unanswered questions about the student’s academic performance, test scores, extracurricular involvement or other factors.

If you have been deferred from the early round of applications, read this: my top 4 tips for deferred students.

1. Contact College(s) Directly

The single most important thing you can do if you would still like to be considered is to contact the college directly as soon as possible. Call (don’t email), and ask to speak to the admissions officer who is assigned to your territory or region. If they are not available, ask to speak to any admissions officer who can answer deferral questions.

Be gracious on the phone, and have your questions ready. Admissions officers are extremely busy this time of year.

Ask the admissions officer if he or she might give you feedback on their decision to defer YOU and why they made that decision. Some prefer to stay very tight-lipped, but most will be surprisingly forthcoming with their comments.

If you take this first step to reach out to the admissions office directly, you are first and foremost brave! You will also probably learn something meaningful about your application, and be prepared to figure out your plan of action.

2. Submit New Compelling Information

Another important step is to write an email or a letter stating your continued interest in the school. This does not need to be a long letter. It might be a quick note expressing your heartfelt hope to be considered during the regular admissions cycle. If done well, with reference to why you still believe this college is the best fit for you, it will indicate your steadfast desire to attend if you are ultimately admitted, which can sometimes make a slight difference in their final decision.

You can also submit updates on your fall grades, new test scores, awards won, or leadership positions earned.

3. Schedule a Visit, Tour, or Interview

Recently, we worked with a student who was very interested in attending Yale University. She was a top-notch student with some of the strongest grades, scores, and activities I had ever seen. And she was a minority female interested in Engineering. I thought she walked on water, but when you’re Yale, I guess you have many student applicants who walk on water…

When she was deferred in the early action round, we suggested she visit the campus, and meet with an admissions officer in person. Although this was slightly awkward given her status with them, she was able to put her face in front of the admissions office and let them know how committed she was to attending Yale if they admitted her. And in March she was accepted to Yale as part of the class of 2020!

Paying a visit to the college in spite of their deferral notification, especially if you have not already visited, will help you clarify your interest and learn more about their admissions needs as well.

4. Let Go

If you have planned well and have a balanced college list you may find the “letting go” part a little easier.

Even so, after you have done everything possible to submit your best work to colleges – written strong personal essays, taken and submitted your best test scores, sent in letters of recommendation, etc. – one of the toughest lessons to learn is how to truly let go.

If you can trust the admissions process and allow the final decision to be made by those who are experts at their institution, you will likely find more peace in your heart throughout the next few months.

In the end, you want to attend college where you can be successful. You want to thrive in college and beyond. Sometimes things happen for a reason, and as with anything in life, sometimes the unexpected is a blessing in disguise.

For more information on how to handle deferrals or to set up a free consultation to discuss how we work with students on the college admissions process, click HERE.

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