A deferral indicates that the admissions committee either needed more information about you to make a concrete decision or wanted to consider you with the general pool of applicants as a regular admissions candidate. In other words, it’s not a firm ‘yes or no’, it’s a ‘maybe or we’ll see.’
So, now that you have received the deferral letter from the school’s admissions, what should you do next?. If you really want to attend this college or university, call the school within a week of receiving your deferral and ask to speak with the admissions staff member who read your file. Demonstrate your interest in the school and ask if there is anything specific that you can do to improve your chance of acceptance during the regular decision. If the school does not accept your call, ask your guidance counselor to call for you.
We suggest following up with a letter to the person you spoke with referencing your conversation and addressing any concerns they mentioned. Include any new awards, grades and updates. If this institution remains your first choice, say this in your letter.
If the admissions office will not provide information to you or your guidance counselor, still demonstrate your interest in their school if it is your top choice. Without going overboard, send or email the admissions office additional information about yourself that may make you stand out (an award you won, a committee you joined since you originally applied, a recent grade or paper, an additional essay, etc). In some cases, demonstrated interest can improve your chances during regular admission.
In many circumstances, we advise our students who are deferred at a top choice school to move on emotionally. Huge numbers of students are deferred in many ED and EA programs. The admission readers had their chance to accept you, and they did not. Barring any new significant personal achievement, in the spring you will look essentially the same to the (same) admission readers as you did in the fall– except you will be facing far more competition. For example, Dartmouth College deferred 600 students of 1200 ED applicants in 2012. They accepted 465 for a spring class of 1100. More than 1/3 of the spots were gone by the end of the ED round. Then another 15,000 applications rolled in for the Regular Decision Round.
Some years ago, we worked with a qualified young woman who was applying ED to her mother’s alma mater. She was deferred, which surprised us all. In the Regular Decision round, she was rejected. After a justified period of disappointment and despair, she accepted an offer for enrollment at a comparable institution, which she attended happily for four years and, from which, she graduated cum laude.
- More On NACAC Study on Factors in College Admission (myiesolutions.wordpress.com)
- What factors are most important in college admissions? (myiesolutions.wordpress.com)
- State of College Admission – Summary of NACAC Study (myiesolutions.wordpress.com)
- Harvard Accepts 18 Percent of Early Admission Applicants (thecrimson.com)
- The Choice Blog: What to Do if You Are Deferred to the Regular Decision Pool (thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com)