You’ve Been Deferred—Now What?

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If you’ve been deferred from your first-choice college or university, don’t panic. Often, students are so disappointed by a deferral that it paralyzes them. A deferral is not a denial. Your admissions decision is still in play, so continue to focus on your strengths as a student. Create an action plan with the following steps.

What to do if you are deferred

First, contact the admissions office and inquire about the next steps. College and university deferment preferences vary vastly. For instance, the Office of Admissions at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign does not request that deferred students submit any additional letters of recommendation, letters of intent/interest, nor an updated transcript. However, the Office of Admission at the University of Wisconsin will accept updated transcripts or mid-year reports.

Colleges and universities appreciate when students ask specific questions regarding their admissions status and seek to improve their odds of gaining admission; however, make sure that you follow the instructions given to you by the college or university. If your first choice institution accepts additional information, keep the following considerations in mind while creating your plan of action:

  • Some colleges are interested in your seventh-semester grades—they want to see how well a student performs first-semester senior year. If you end on a high note, that means a lot in the eyes of admissions officers. Continue to study hard and complete assignments.
  • Send the college or university updates about any new awards or honors received after your admissions application was submitted. Have you undertaken an initiative that involves philanthropic or fundraising efforts? Are you actively working on a new idea for an extracurricular project? This is a perfect opportunity to add something new to your application that enhances your “Stand Out Factor.”
  • Provide an additional letter of recommendation. Some colleges and universities will accept another letter of recommendation. However, submit a letter that provides a new aspect of you. Simply sending in another letter of recommendation that says the same things about you will not help your case.
  • Write a letter of Intent/Interest. This step should only be considered if the college or university is indeed your top choice. The message is meant to demonstrate your unwavering interest in the institution. It declares: “I’ve been deferred, but I’m not deterred. I’m still very interested in your institution. Attending this university remains my top goal, my dream—and I appreciate your continued interest in my application.” Bonus tip, there’s no need for the letter to be longer than a paragraph or two.

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