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What to do if you're deferred from your Early Action/Early Decision school

If a college or university defers your early application, you can still make it through in the regular application. In the 11th instalment of our 12-part series on US college admissions, we share helpful pointers on how not to let deferrals defeat you.
BY Katherine Ernst Mehta |   06-01-2017


After pouring time and energy into an early application, learning that you’ve been deferred can feel very disappointing because it’s not the outcome you had hoped for.  However, it’s important that you don’t get discouraged – a deferral is not a rejection, and there’s still a chance that you could be admitted in the regular application round!  Being deferred can also offer another opportunity to let the school know how interested you are in attending.

If you are deferred, many colleges will give you the opportunity to send updates on your academic and extracurricular activities. If your school counsellor is willing, he or she could also send a letter to the university providing updates and reaffirming your interest in attending the university. However, in this process you are your own best advocate, so don’t rely solely on your counsellor.  Make sure you also reach out to the school with updates and a statement of continued interest.

Specifically, your letter of continued interest should:

  1. Convey your genuine interest and commitment to attending the school.

    Reiterate why the school is the best fit for you, including specific details from the school like courses, professors, and unique opportunities.  And, if this is still your first choice school, let them know that if you are admitted, you absolutely intend to enrol.
  2. Provide updates on what you’ve been doing since you applied

    This can include academic information like performing really well in your mid-terms or improving your SAT score; or extracurricular information like launching a new initiative at your school or continuing with your music.  The updates, however, should add new information, and not simply repeat what was already in the original application.
  3. Maintain an optimistic tone

    You want to convey that you’re still excited about the possibility of attending the school, so avoid language that might make you sound disheartened or frustrated.

Think of this as a love letter to your dream school.  It’s one last opportunity to make your case for why you and the school are a perfect match, and you belong in its incoming class.

Katherine Ernst Mehta is CEO and Founder of Edvanta Consulting, which works with international high-school students seeking admission to US universities. She first came from the US to India for research, and now lives in Delhi. You can reach her on Twitter at @EdvantaCo. Previous instalments of her 12-part series on US college admissions are here.



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