I was deferred from my early decision school. Is there anything I can do at this point?
I think being deferred almost puts students in a more difficult position than being rejected, by having to wait in limbo until April. Knowing that the chance for admission in the spring is fairly small, I generally tell students not to bank on it. For many students, the likelihood of being admitted now is in the single digits. I do encourage students to advocate for themselves if they still truly believe that this school remains their top choice. However, on the same note, I believe the student has to be careful not to come off as desperate, overly anxious or aggressive in the process.
I would send a letter or email to the admissions officer at the school where you were deferred and reiterate that this school remains your top choice school. If you can get the name of the regional representative who reads your application, this would be preferable. February might be an appropriate time to send this letter, as admission officers are ramping up again at this time of year to review their regular admissions, and you have the benefit of having your first semester grades completed. If you have additional information to add that was not included in your supplement as to why you have chosen this school, you can add this information at this time. You would want to be very specific about a certain major, department or program that you want to participate in or a professor who you want to study under. You want to relay to the admission office that you have done your homework, and this is the school that would offer you what you are looking for.
If you are absolutely certain that you would attend should you be granted admission, I would specify this, although colleges know that this is not always the case. More importantly, I would send any new information such as improved grades, new leadership positions, honors or better test scores that would strengthen your application. Colleges do not want to be inundated with more paper come spring, so I would ask before sending in additional letters of recommendation or writing samples. Should they be willing to have an additional recommendation sent, consider sending one from someone who can shed new light on your application and can speak to something that has not already been conveyed.
Please consider putting in the time now to write a strong application to all the other schools on your list, as you might stand a better chance at being accepted at one of those schools. While I recognize that this can be demoralizing, this is not the time of year to let discouragement impede all the hard work you have done up to this point to be the candidate who you are.
Joan Franklin is the owner of MI College Support, an independent college counseling practice (www.micollegesupport.org). She can be reached at (206) 232-5626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.