Getting deferred from your Early Decision or Early Action school is never the decision you were hoping for. But it does not close the door for you to be admitted later on. Students who work with Ivy Experience receive coaching throughout the entire application process, including deferrals. In case you don’t work with us yet, here are some next steps after getting that deferral letter from your top choice school.
What does being deferred mean?
Colleges and universities receive thousands of applications for their early admission programs each year and only allot a specific portion of their class to early applicants. Since there are often more strong applicants than spaces, colleges will sometimes delay making a final decision—or defer the decision—until a later date. In recent years, this practice has become more and more common among selective colleges, so being deferred is not abnormal.
But this isn’t the end of the road for your application! Students who are deferred from their early program can be admitted later on, usually when Regular Decision applications are released.
An important note: for schools you applied to with binding Early Decision agreements, you’ll often be released from that agreement, allowing you to attend another school if you are admitted to more than one.
Why was I deferred?
It can be stressful to be deferred from your first-choice school, but it also presents an opportunity for you to control your future more so than before. Sometimes the admission office defers applications because they need additional information, like your senior year grades, to make a final decision. Keeping your grades strong and studying hard for your final exams and projects will reflect well on your first semester grades.
There are schools, however, where all students not admitted in the early round are deferred. For example, Georgetown states that all students not admitted in the early round are deferred.
So, now what?
The number one piece of advice is to follow the directions asked of you in your deferral letter. Failing to follow directions may jeopardize your deferral decision when admission officers review applications later on. Not following directions will reflect poorly on your application and communicate to the admission office that you didn’t review their deferral letter. Don’t go out of your way to send unsolicited letters of interest or contact admission officers when their instructions don’t say so.
Most often, schools will ask you to submit a letter of continued interest or fill out a deferral form to confirm that you’re still interested in attending their institution. For example, the University of Michigan provides details on the next steps after receiving your deferral decision and gives clear, direct instructions to applicants.
Remember to follow these tips when reaching out to admission offices! Setting a clear purpose for your outreach, researching online for the answer first, and taking the time to find who the appropriate contact is will streamline your contact with admissions.
Write your Letter of Continued Interest (if requested)
For schools that request a letter stating your continued interest in being admitted, addressing the right topics is key. Be sure to state your interest in being admitted to the school plainly. Share any academic updates like honors or awards you have received.
For reference, Notre Dame gives great tips and instructions for their letter of interest. They encourage students to update the admission office on any new extra-curricular awards or achievements and give directions on how to submit this letter. Their deferral page includes tips on what to include in the letter of continued interest.
Write from the heart, provide any updates to your activities and achievements, and be sure to review the school’s instructions!
Review your School List
Now that you have some clarity around decisions, take a look at the remaining schools on your college list.
Do any of them have an Early Decision II deadline? As long as you’re not violating the deferred school’s policies, you can consider applying under the Early Decision II deadline to show your commitment to that school. Remember, Early Decision II deadlines are similarly binding to Early Decision I deadlines, just with later application due dates and decisions typically released in February. Deciphering these deadlines can be confusing, but our blog post about the different kinds of deadlines can bring some clarity. Keep in mind that you should only apply to schools with Early Decision II deadlines if they are your clear second choice. Otherwise, Regular Decision deadlines are still waiting for you!
When looking at the rest of your school list, review what essays you’ve written for your Early Decision and Early Action schools. You may be able to tweak responses you already have to other schools’ prompts if you want to add a few last-minute options. Your essay coaches can guide you through this process, as well.
Watch your Portals and Email:
Schools will reach out if they need any additional information from you beyond what’s listed in their deferral letter. Be sure to check your portals and your email to see if schools need any information from you!