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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
Admissions college admissions Deferral Top Tips

What to Do If You Have Been Deferred

For the past few weeks, students have been anxiously awaiting the results of their Early Decision and Early Action applications. Now, as December rolls on, many schools are finally releasing their decisions. 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

In theory, deferrals are pretty simple. When schools defer students, they postpone making decisions about those students’ applications until the regular round. This allows admissions officers to reconsider these students’ materials within the full applicant pool. Students can be deferred for any number of reasons, ranging from mediocre application essays to a spike in the number of early applicants, to scores below the expected level. Sometimes admissions officers want to see a student’s fall semester grades or the results of recent standardized tests. It’s also not uncommon for students to receive “courtesy deferrals” (rather than rejections) if their families are well-connected at that particular college.

The number of students deferred varies from institution to institution. Some schools defer very few students. Others, like Georgetown University, automatically defer every student not accepted in the Early Action round. Unfortunately, schools ultimately don’t accept many of the students they defer. As a rule of thumb, most schools accept only 5-10% of deferred students. Last year, for example, MIT deferred 6,331 of the 9,571 students who applied in the Early Action round. During the regular round, however, MIT admitted only 248 of those deferred students — an admit rate of 3.9%.

The good news: if you are deferred, there are still plenty of things you can do to increase your odds of admission during the regular round. We’ve laid out some of them below.

Deferred

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 the last week of February, submit the following materials to the admissions officer covering your area:

  1. A one-page deferral letter that includes:
    1. A note about your strong fall semester grades, as well as any new awards, scores or honors you’ve received
    2. Updates on your interesting extracurricular activities or accomplishments
    3. 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!