As the number of applications to top universities in the US rises and the applicant pool becomes increasingly competitive, it is possible that the Early Decision and Early Action applications for some very talented and qualified students might be deferred to the regular admission cycle. If you are one of these students, what does it mean to be deferred, and what should you do now?
As a student who was deferred from my top choice university, Brown, in my senior year of high school, I remember waking up to a notification of my admission decision that December only to realize a few minutes later that the decision was not a yes or no — I was deferred. At the time, I did not know what this meant, nor did I know how to feel about it. Yes, it was disappointing that I was not accepted, but it wasn’t necessarily bad news. I still had a chance to gain admission to my first choice university, only I would now have to wait until April to receive a final decision on my application.
So if you’re in this state of limbo, waiting around for a yes or no, the question is what do you do? Firstly, know that you are not alone – don’t despair and don’t be angry. A deferral means that you are qualified for admission and the admission officers have decided to review and reevaluate your application among the regular decision applicant pool. Yes, this feels like the ultimate test of patience, but it is certainly not the end of the road; if you weren’t qualified enough to be admitted, your application would have been rejected in the first cycle.
You should now make sure that your application to that university, and the other schools that you are applying to, is as strong and up-to-date as it can be. If you have any mid-year grades, improved test scores, additional recommendations, awards or accomplishments that could strengthen your application, you should send these to the admission office for their consideration. Do not resend information that was already submitted previously.
You should also begin by personally reaching out and writing to the admissions office of your first-choice university, asking about why you were deferred and what you can do to enhance your application. Thank the admission officers for considering your application, and be sure to remain positive and polite when communicating with them. Your enthusiasm for the university should not be any less than it was before being deferred, but this does not mean that you pester the office and call them repeatedly during this busy time of year.
In addition, make sure that you have established a balanced college list and have completed and submitted your applications to other schools. It is important to be realistic, and have an alternate option in case you do not receive an acceptance to your first-choice university in the regular decision round.
Anushka Chugani is the Director of Operations at Hale Education Group.