What To Do If You Are Deferred

We know that application numbers this season are way up. It’s quite possible that you are a qualified student who has been deferred from your first choice college. A deferral means that you are qualified and that the admission officers will take another look at your application file during their regular admission period. So, what to do? If you are still interested in that college and would attend if accepted, here are some helpful tips of things to do now.

1. Don’t Be Too Upset

Most likely, if you’ve been deferred you are a qualified candidate. If you weren’t, you’d be denied. The percentages vary from college to college, but many students do get accepted after being deferred

2. Call About Your Deferral

Give the admissions office a call and try to speak with your representative. It is okay to ask why you were deferred.  Explain that this college is still your first choice and ask them what you can do to strengthen your application. Be positive and express enthusiasm for the college.

3. Send NEW Information

Colleges generally ask for your midyear grades. Update your resume – DO NOT send anything that the college has already seen – All your information must be new. Also, think about other information that might be worth sending:

New and improved SAT or ACT scores if available

Participation in a new extracurricular activity

A new leadership position in a group or team

A new honor or award

4. Send a New Letter of Recommendation

An additional letter of recommendation from someone who has not written for you yet is a good idea. This letter should highlight your unique characteristics and mention some things about you not previously mentioned. If this is your first choice college, the recommender could say that in their letter

5. Send Supplemental Materials

You can check with the college to see if they allow you to send any supplemental materials – For example, an art portfolio or writing sample would do.

6. Be Polite

Thank admission people you communicate with and remain polite and positive. They are very busy this time of year so save up any questions rather than calling several times

7. Have An Alternative Plan In Mind

You should do what you can to get into your top choice school, but remain realistic. Many deferred students do get accepted during the regular pool, however, many do not. Make sure you have applied to a range of reach, 50/50 and likely colleges so that you will have additional choices if you get a denial from your first choice.

8. Sample Letters

To present new information, you may want to draft a letter to the college. Below is a sample letter:

You can be disappointed but not angry – short and to the point is best


Last week I learned that my application for early decision at Johns Hopkins was deferred. As you can imagine, this news was disappointing to me. Johns Hopkins remains my first choice and the university I’m most excited about attending. I visited a lot of schools during my college search, and Johns Hopkins’s program in Foreign Studies appeared to be a perfect match for my interests and aspirations.

I want to thank you and your colleagues for the time you put into considering my application. After I applied for early decision, I received a couple more pieces of information that I hope will make my application stronger. I retook the SAT in November and my combined score went from 1980 to 2190. The College Board will be sending you an official score report soon. Also, I was recently elected to be the Captain of our school Water Polo Team, a group of 26 students who compete in regional competitions. As Captain, I will have a major role in the team’s scheduling, publicity and fund raising. I have asked the team’s coach to send you a supplemental letter of recommendation that will address my role on the team.

Many thanks for your consideration,

About Jeannie Borin

Jeannie stays on the forefront of current and innovative trends in college admissions and education. This is evident by her vast social and national media presence, membership in the most highly regarded college admissions organizations, public speaking, and attendance at professional college conferences. She also visits colleges throughout the United States building contacts within the admissions staff. Her extensive educational background includes school administrator, counselor, admissions director, teacher and curriculum supervisor in both the public and private sectors. Jeannie received her Masters Degree in Counseling and Education and Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology/Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She mentored graduate students through the UCLA counselor-training program and is state certified. Jeannie holds a teaching credential issued for life and is a Juilliard School of Music alumnus. She has first hand experience in selective admission auditions for top tier performing arts programs. Jeannie has been awarded Professional Membership with the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the most credible educational consulting organization in the United States. She is also a Professional Member of the National and Western Association of College Admissions Counselors as well as the Higher Educational Consultants Association.
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