Around the first week of March, admissions offices at top colleges sort through all their deferred candidates in order to see how many they will ultimately admit. Much will depend upon the strength of their applicant pool for regular admission — was it higher than usual? Were applications up? Was there a strong geographic spread? In other words, what does the statistical makeup of the class look like, and where might it fall short? For example, if there were a shortage of female apps, the office might accept a higher percentage of females from the deferred pool who showed a strong interest.
If you are one of the applicants in this pool, the odds of catching their eye in March are not great, but if you want to have any chance at all, make sure that you are an ACTIVE defer. Write a letter reaffirming that the college is still your first choice, send an extra letter of recommendation, make sure your grades go up and send your next round of grades, send updates about what you are doing in school — in short, be a PRESENCE. The only deferred kids who end up being accepted are those who make themselves into polite pests. Of course it depends upon why you were deferred in the first place, but rest assured that if you do nothing and send nothing, you will not be accepted.
More specifically, by the middle of February, draw up a one-page letter reaffirming your interest in the college, and then submit a bullet-point list of all the earth-shattering news/awards that you have won. Also, it can help to have senior year teachers send extra (not many – 1-2, no more) letters of recommendation to the school as well. Finally, your school should call on your behalf and push your case. That is about the only way a deferred candidate gets in since the odds are only about 5% depending on the school. In short, ACTIVE deferrals have a chance — those who do nothing will definitely NOT get in.
Another word about early applications: There seems to be a trend that more schools are now rejecting kids outright so that those who have no chance are not misled in the regular round. That should correlate to a small increase in the number of deferred applicants who get in. Normally at most schools the deferral acceptance rate is only 5-7% or so, not high. What can you do? The first thing is to speak directly to the admissions officer who read your application (you can have your college counselor call FIRST, then follow up) to get a sense of your chances. Sometimes there is NO chance (as in, your application wasn’t good, you didn’t stand out) and sometimes there is a specific reason — they wanted to see your grades in AP classes, they wanted new scores — all of which should be annotated on your file.
For younger students, take note that the application matters! Kids who dash off an application, even with strong scores, may be deferred. The other reason students are deferred is false confidence — thinking you stand out more than you do. It’s humbling to think that the typical Ivy applicant has 730 and up on ALL tests, several AP scores of 4-5, top rank in class and extraordinary talents. Yes, it is hard to stand out. If you are a current freshman or sophomore get working now so that you do indeed stand out in a particular academic area. How? Well, read on as we’ll give tips each week. But, focus on what you love and then notch that up by going above and beyond.