On College: What to do if you are deferred from school of choice

Question: I was deferred from my early decision school. Is there anything I can do at this point?

Answer: Many schools indicated that they had received a record number of applications this year. This might explain why I am seeing more students this year being deferred at schools that previously might have accepted them. I know that is a very difficult position and I am sorry for your predicament.

Knowing that the chance for admission in the spring is fairly small, I generally tell students that they cannot count on being admitted.  For many students, the likelihood of now being admitted from the regular pool is in the single digits. On the other hand, I do however encourage students to advocate for themselves if they still believe that this school remains their top choice. .

I would consider sending a letter in late January or early February, once your first semester grades are completed, so that they have the benefit of this new information. I would send this letter, or an email to the admissions officer at the school where you were deferred and reiterate that this school remains your top choice.  If you can get the name of the regional representative who reads your application, this would be preferable.

In this correspondence you want to be very specific as to why you have chosen this school as your number one and what sets it apart from other schools on your list. Ideally, you can explain about a certain major or department you want to participate in or a professor you want to study with or address other programs unique to this institution. 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. More importantly, I would send any new information including leadership positions, internships, job responsibilities, awards, or better test scores that would strengthen your application.  I should not worry if you do not have anything newsworthy at this point as I have found that students rarely have more to add, having just completed their application a few months ago. Colleges do not want to be inundated with more paper so I would ask admissions before I send additional letters of recommendation or writing samples. Should they be willing to read additional recommendations, I   consider asking someone who can shed new light on your application and can speak to something that has not already been conveyed. If you are absolutely certain that you would attend this college should you be granted admission, I would specify this, although colleges know that this is not always the case

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 shot at being accepted at another college. This is also the time to re- evaluate your list to ensure that you have enough targets schools on your list should this one, or equally competitive colleges not work out. While I recognize that this whole ordeal can be demoralizing, this is not the time of year to let discouragement interfere with all the effort you have done up to this point.

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 joanfranklin@micollegesupport.org.


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