It’s that time of the year when high school seniors and their parents anxiously and excitedly await those fateful emails. Accepted? Deferred? Denied? If you’re accepted, it’s time to celebrate! If you’re denied, the decision was made for you. But, if you were deferred, what — if anything — should you do? Just hope for the best? Forget about the school and just concentrate elsewhere? Don’t give up hope yet, there’s still much that can be done if you were deferred.
First, it might help to better understand why you were deferred. In all likelihood, it has little to nothing to do with you and mostly or entirely to do with the college’s institutional needs or priorities at that particular time. Maybe they are trying to increase the number of students from underserved or underrepresented demographics on campus. No students from Montana yet? Whoever applies from Montana will have a massive advantage. If you are deferred it means this: the college wants you there, they see that you can succeed at the school, but they have too few seats to fill and it’s very likely they filled your seat, so far, with someone’s profile that was not better than yours but just different (or maybe not even as good). Is that fair? I would say no. But, as we all know, life is not always fair. The best you can do is be content and do your best even when things don’t go your way.
Ok, fine. But is there anything you can do to get from the deferred pile to the admitted pile?
It’s worth a try. It’s now time to begin a “soft lobby” before the end of the year:
- An email to the admissions office with an update about your first quarter grades, extracurricular accomplishments, etc.
- Reiterate that the school is your top choice (if it truly is). Colleges really care about how likely you are to attend if they offer you an acceptance letter. That’s why they care so much about “demonstrated interest” — it helps them gauge how likely you are to enroll if accepted. If they offer an acceptance letter and you decide to attend elsewhere, it actually hurts the college: their “yield rate,” which is the number of students who enroll divided by the number of students given acceptance letters, largely determines their prestige — and rankings. All schools only want to give acceptance letters to students who will definitely attend (hence, early decision to contractually bind students to enrolling if an acceptance letter is given, which guarantees the college a higher yield rate). So, if a college knows that if they accept you in regular decision that you will definitely enroll, then you have significantly increased your chances of getting accepted.
- Offer to visit and/or meet with an admissions representative (once the pandemic is over, of course).
- Follow up with a monthly email in January and February. But don’t be too pushy. This is the time to stay in touch, not push too hard.
But don’t stop there. Here’s what else you should do to proactively position yourself well if you do not yet have acceptance letters to schools you really like:
- Finalize your regular decision college list and double-down on those applications (the regular decision pool is more competitive, so give your essays an extra layer of polish).
- Talk to your admissions counselor about how likely you might be to move from deferred to accepted and consider applying in the 2nd Early Decision round at another school. As previously mentioned, yield rate is very important for a school, so, if you’re sure you want to attend a school if accepted, then applying early decision usually works to your benefit (except for financial aid, since then you cannot compare financial aid packages from accepted schools and leverage the aid offered by one school to potentially get increased aid from another).
If you’ve done the above, then you’ve done all that you can likely do — really you’ve gone above and beyond. It’s time to then see how things play out. Remember: Things tend to work out as they should, and there is more than one wonderful school out there! Good luck, and let us know — as always — if we can help or serve you in any way.