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Admissions college admissions Deferral Early Decision Ivy Admissions Ivy League Admissions

What To Do If You Were Deferred

You applied early to your top choice school and the news back wasn’t what you wanted to hear. You were deferred. Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. Let us guide you through the steps to respond to this college admission decision. 

WHAT IS A DEFERRAL?

Colleges can respond to your early application with a number of decisions: accepted, rejected, or deferred.  A deferral is when a school postpones making a decision about a student’s application and pushes it off until the regular round where they will take another look. Students can be deferred for any number of reasons:

  • The school received more early applications than anticipated, and this year there have definitely been more early applications as you can see from our prior post. (link)
  • The applicant’s scores were low, yes even during COVID some schools have the luxury of still reviewing scores and yes, some students had scores to submit.
  • Perhaps grades weren’t quite high enough and the school wants to see more data before pulling the YES trigger.  
  • For non-binding early action schools, a low level of demonstrated interest could be the reason it was a deferral – they weren’t convinced that if they gave that applicant a seat he/she would actually accept.
  • Admissions officers might have been looking for more high impact extras and are waiting to see what the student might add to his/her achievements.
  • They couldn’t figure out the student’s academic niche – application was not specific enough. We are happy to help you refine this in your follow up to the school in our Deferral Program.
  • The student was a legacy, but not up to the school’s standards so it was a “courtesy deferral” vs a full-on rejection which well-connected families wouldn’t like much.
  • The applicant was swept up in the media’s portrayal of NO STANDARDIZED TESTS THIS YEAR and thought he/she could get into Harvard just because he/she was a top student.  Takes a lot more than that to get in

ANY GOOD NEWS?

Schools typically accept only 5-10 percent of students they deferred. And though early round admission rates are much better than regular they are still extremely competitive. For instance, Harvard’s early acceptance rate is typically around 13% versus 3% in the regular round.

For very top schools, admissions is competitive in both early and regular

If you are deferred, reflect on our above list and have a reality check with yourself. Why do you think you were deferred? There are still plenty of things you can do to increase your odds of admission during the regular round. If you do nothing, however, chances are your results will be an ultimate denial. We’ve laid out some action items for deferred students below.

TAKE ACTION ONCE YOU’VE BEEN DEFERRED

Hopefully your deferral will serve as a reminder to go back and review everything you have in place for your regular applications.  In addition, begin to work on the following:

  1. Kick into gear to bring up grades. Grades are the most important factor in admissions decisions, so you’ll want to finish the semester with the strongest grades possible. Now is not the time for senioritis. Put a pause on your video game habit and double down on studying. 
  2. Review opportunities to retake or take standardized tests. Were you shut out of spring and summer Subject Tests? Need to retake the ACT? Don’t assume just because of COVID you get a free pass on testing.  If testing sites are open in your area, take the tests. 
  3. Pursue any last-minute contests, articles to publish or other ways to stand out in your area of expertise. Schools want to brag about their incoming freshman class.  Make yourself brag worthy by going the extra mile in something you’ve already begun. Let us know if we can help you identify some ways to do so.
  4. Find out why. Ask your counselor at school to call the school and find out any information he or she can about why you were deferred. Were items missing from your application? Did the school see a huge rise in applicants from your state? Not all counselors will do this, but it’s worth the ask. Best case is that he/she can advocate for you on the call, in addition to finding out what happened.
  5. Get another recommendation. Have you spent the semester taking a college course, or doing research with a local professor? If so, ask him/her to write a recommendation on your behalf.  How about a senior year teacher who knows you well?  Another recommendation is definitely in order.   Make sure to stick to one recommendation only, though! You don’t want to overwhelm the admissions office.
  6. Follow the rules.  It goes without saying that you want to review each school’s deferral policy.  MIT, for instance, does not require a student to opt into being reviewed again in the regular round. 

By mid-January (or whenever first semester grades come out), submit the following materials to the admissions officer covering your area (always reviewing their policies, however):

  1. A one-page deferral letter that includes:
    • Updates on grades, awards, standardized test scores, extracurriculars
    • Details on why they are your first choice.  Be specific and focus on your academic match. 
  2. An updated school transcript that includes your fall-semester grades
  3. One letter of support from a senior-year teacher, if applicable

DON’T FORGET TO…

  1. Advocate for yourself, but don’t become a pest. It’s okay to send a deferral letter to the admissions officer covering your area; it’s not okay to stake out his or her office for the next few weeks.
  2. Consider an Early Decision 2 option and perhaps adding more schools to your regular list.
  3. Stay confident. While this feels like a gut punch, rise up and keep on refining your application package based on what you now know.

Review our Deferral Program and let us guide you. Time is critical, however, and we work with a limited number of students so call us quickly.

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Deferral Insider Tips Seniors Top Tips

Top Tips If You’ve Been Deferred

As December slips by, many schools are releasing their Early Decision I and Early Action decisions. Psssst…. We have the most up to date release information here. For students who are accepted or rejected, these results are pretty clear-cut. Some students, however, will face a less definitive status: deferral.

WHAT BEING DEFERRED MEANS

Being deferred can be likened to Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys –not knowing exactly where you fit or if you fit at all. In theory, deferrals are fairly straight forward. When a school postpones making a decision about a student’s application until the regular round, that student is deferred. Students can be deferred for any number of reasons:

  • a spike in the number of early applicants
  • scores below the expected level
  • a desire to see fall semester grades or the results of recent standardized tests
  • low level of demonstrated interest
  • vague or no academic extras outlined on common app

It’s also not uncommon for students to receive “courtesy deferrals” (rather than rejections) if their families are well-connected at that particular college or if they are a legacy or have a sibling at the school.

SILVER LINING

Unfortunately, schools ultimately don’t accept many of the students they defer. As a rule of thumb, most schools accept only 5-10 percent of deferred students. And though early round admission rates are much better than regular they are still extremely competitive. For instance, Harvard accepted 895 out of 6,424 to their Class of 2024, reflecting a 13.9 acceptance rate for their binding early action round. Typically, the regular round acceptance rate hovers around just 3 percent! In UVA’s first early decision round since 2006, admittance to the Class of 2024 was offered to 749 out of 2,157 students, which represents a 35 percent acceptance rate. Last year, just 23.8 percent were admitted during the regular round for the Class of 2023. Brown accepted 800 out of 4,562 early decision applicants to their Class of 2024, representing a 17.5 percent acceptance rate. The regular round acceptance rate last year was 5.17 percent. No matter how you shake it, the admissions competition in the early rounds is tough but it’s even tougher in regular.

BUT, if you are deferred, there are still plenty of things you can do to increase your odds of admission during the regular round. If you do nothing, however, chances are your results will be an ultimate denial. We’ve laid out some action items for deferred students below. 

college admissions waitlist deferral

TOP TIPS IF YOU’VE BEEN DEFERRED

As soon as you receive notice that you have been deferred:

  1. Bring up your grades. As we’ve said before, grades are the most important factor in admissions decisions, so you’ll want to finish the fall semester with the strongest grades possible. If your senior-year grades are weak, we recommend cutting out all extra activities and focusing on improving your academic performance.
  2. Retake subject tests if needed. If you had any sub par scores, now is the time to send in higher scores. Basically, if nothing changes, the result won’t either.
  3. Seek out awards, competitions, or high-level extracurricular activities in your area of interest.Colleges want to see concrete evidence of your accomplishments and your continued passion for your field. After strong grades, additional accolades and impressive projects are the next most important element to prove your strength as an applicant.
  4. Ask your guidance counselor to call the admissions office on your behalf. During this call, your guidance counselor should express support for your application and also find out any information he or she can about why you were deferred. Were items missing from your application? Did the school see a huge rise in applicants from your state?
  5. Ask one of your senior-year teachers to write a letter of support on your behalf. If you’ve spent the semester doing research with a college faculty or working in a lab, it would also be appropriate to get a letter of support from your faculty mentor. Make sure to stick to one recommendation only, though! You don’t want to overwhelm the admissions office.
  6. If you have any contacts at the school that might be helpful to you (e.g., trustee pals, fundraising connections), reach out to them now.

By mid-January (or whenever first semester grades come out), submit the following materials to the admissions officer covering your area:

  1. A one-page deferral letter that includes:
    • A note about your strong fall semester grades, as well as any new awards, scores or honors you’ve received
    • Updates on your interesting extracurricular activities or accomplishments
    • One paragraph detailing why this school is still your first choice. Be precise about why you love the school and what you would add to its campus. This is a crucial paragraph because it allows admissions officers to see your passion for the school and to envision you as part of the student body.
  2. An updated school transcript that includes your fall-semester grades
  3. One letter of support from a senior-year teacher, if applicable

KEEP IN MIND

Some things to keep you mind as you go through this process:

  1. Do advocate for yourself, but don’t become a pest. It’s okay to send a deferral letter to the admissions officer covering your area; it’s not okay to stake out his or her office for the next few weeks.
  2. Come up with a back-up plan in the event that you are not accepted to your top school during the regular round. What other schools are on your list? Have you considered an ED2 option?
  3. Don’t let a deferral erode your confidence. Remember, you’re a smart, talented student with a lot to offer, and there are many schools (maybe even this one!) that will ultimately accept you because of it.

If you’re still confused by the deferral process or struggling to figure out how to improve your application, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!

Categories
Top Tips UT Austin

UT Austin Admissions Update

We wrote an overview of UT Austin’s admissions information and had a great interview a while back with Alexandra Taylor, who was Assistant Director of Admissions at the time. Because of the many questions we have received about UT recently, we wanted to comment on the current admissions situation.

In light of the March, 2019 admissions scandal that involved, among other things, coaches basically selling recruited athlete spots, UT has posted this information on their website.  The UT tennis coach was implicated in this fraudulent scheme and immediately let go.

UT AUSTIN: INTEGRITY IN THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS

University of Texas (UT) took the opportunity to spell out their admissions policies and firmly stand by their integrity in the admissions process. They also restate that 90% of their offers of admission go to freshman from Texas high schools.  Pay attention to this out of state students.  It’s not a slam dunk to get into UT if you don’t live in Texas and if you do live in Texas, again, given the law, it’s only a slam dunk if you are top of your class.

They also note:

“Within this group, 75 percent of the class is filled automatically with students who graduated near the top of their classes in Texas public high schools. The remaining students are admitted after a holistic review of their academic and personal achievements within the context of their educational environment and the resources available to them. As at most U.S. universities, special talents in the arts, music, athletics and other areas are given consideration based on merit for students planning to pursue these areas while in college.” 

No college can accept an entire class of STEM focused students or have a theater department with no actors.  So, of course these things help admissions officers make up the incoming class.  In the rush to conclude that there are “side door” ways to get into UT or into any top U.S. college or university, some common sense about how the freshman class makeup is considered, can help make sense of the process.  This is also why we here at Top Tier Admissions counsel our students to take action in high school in areas of scholarly interest.

It is interesting to note that information has also come out that an internal investigation by the university discovered that between 2009 and 2014, 60% of the applicants supported with letters from lawmakers were accepted. Let’s hope this practice has ended at UT as one would think that all colleges and universities are on their best behavior with law suits pending, bad actors exploiting the system, and unethical coaches faking athletes.

UT AUSTIN: THE PLACE TO BE

University of Texas is making a big effort to support first generation students as evidenced by the fact that 20% of their current student body are the first in their family to attend college.

UT continues to be more competitive each year. They received, according to reports, over 53,000 applications for the Class of 2023 admitting around 17,000 students for Fall 2019. Two-thirds of all applicants will not gain admission.

The admissions rate for Texas residents outside of the top 6% was 14%. Less than 10% of out-of-state and international students gained admission. And, the Honors programs are more competitive than ever before. We worked with a Texas student who gained acceptance to MIT, but not to the UT Honors Program.

The Executive Director of Admissions at UT Austin posted below in late January, 2019:

We are excited about a record number of completed freshman applications for fall 2019. We have admitted about 6,000 students to specific majors and expect to add another 3,000 this week. When decisions are completed, more than 17,000 students will be offered a spot in Texas ’23.   

For those students hoping to transfer to UT Austin, review their new, clearly outlined transfer requirements here.

Categories
College Application Secrets

Quiet Leaders

A post by Mimi Doe

Susan Cain wrote an op-ed in the New York Times recently that I encourage both parents of teenagers and students to read titled Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers. The piece shines a light on a topic I find deeply important as we help our students navigate the complicated arena of both college admissions and the narrative around success in our culture.

For over 15 years I have helped students and their parents deconstruct admissions at top tier colleges and craft an authentic action plan for their journeys toward college choices.  It is never one size fits all and yet the messaging around success is loud and clear:  Type A, alpha dogs win the prizes.

To some extent, quantifiable achievements such as a high GPA, standardized test scores and class rank are locked in. Top schools have well documented cut-offs in each area and typically won’t spend time with an application if these aren’t met.  There is no need, however, to be an alpha dog to achieve these markers.  A quiet, smart, hardworking, motivated, introvert can do just fine in this department, thank you very much.

MORE THAN JUST A LAUNDRY LIST OF ‘LEADERSHIP’ POSITIONS PLEASE

Admissions is about 80% academics, meaning top grades, ranking and scores are the foundation, but academic inquisitiveness and love of learning are part of this equation.  Colleges want kids who love to learn and go above and beyond simply because they can’t NOT explore their love of quantum physics or 18th century female artists or deep philosophical questions.

Admissions officers are looking for more than a laundry list of high school “leadership” positions.  Every high school in every city in every state in countries all over the world has a junior class vice-president, for instance, but how many applications will present a young ornithologist author of a field guide on dragonflies who is a field attendant at a national park, identifies wildlife at a local preserve for catalogs that will inform thousands of visitors, and presented his idea for an eagle cam in a bald eagle’s nest to a local college professor who then joined his project and co-published new research on eagle nesting habits. That’s leadership.

We work with students to help them find their authentic interests and then “take it up a notch.”  But, to be clear, taking it up doesn’t mean getting louder or more aggressive but rather creatively pursuing and sharing in a fashion consistent with their personalities.  A shy, self-conscious high school sophomore may not feel comfortable launching a poetry slam at her high school for fear of social rejection or, worse yet, standing in front of an assembly to announce the event.  She might, however, partner with a friend who is part of the Speech and Debate Club and is happy to take on the “front” duties.  It doesn’t take stage presence to submit her poems to the many avenues that publish, or study poetry in online college courses. She could attend monthly poetry slams at a local coffee shop and gain the courage to present.  The peer intensity will be much less in this forum.  She might start a blog devoted to her particular genre of poetry, review new collections of poetry, and even lead a workshop at the local library for young children to get their poetry on.  Is being “extroverted” required for this?

Susan Cain is the author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, so I understand she’s particularly sensitive to the experience of those who don’t fit the common notion of “leader.”  She writes, “Our elite schools overemphasize leadership partly because they’re preparing students for the corporate world, and they assume that this is what businesses need.”

TTA-Leadership-science

I’m not so sure this is true as admissions officers at top schools can figure out those who authentically love to learn and share and expand their academic/scholarly interests.  In my experience they do not so narrowly define “leadership.” They have 30 or more majors at their school and need kids like our young ornithologist, not just another class president.

Of course I believe it’s exciting to see students push past their perceived limitations such as the quiet young woman who took a Carnegie speech class at night so that she might better present her sustainability research at a conference this summer, but it’s equally important for us as parents to understand our child’s learning style, temperament and their goals vs some outdated model of a leader. And it’s critical that teenagers have some self awareness to understand how they learn, their best way of communicating and what they might expand and adapt, even if it might be uncomfortable, so they can lead in their own way.

RETHINK LEADERSHIP

We urge our students to look beyond the example Cain offers in her article of a student’s painful pursuit to land the role of “freshman mentor.”  Rethink leadership.  It’s not just the generic positions available at one’s high school that demand an extroverted, popular persona but rather the world is their oyster with opportunities to stand out in areas of their choosing.