Decision Time: What to do About the Dreaded College Deferral

 High school seniors whose paths have felt littered with pins and needles these past few months will be relieved to hear of their college admission fate. And while the tulips might not realize spring is on the horizon, college admission decisions are rolling in. Unfortunately, those decisions mimic the rest of the college admission process in that they are not always straightforward. If you hear from your first-choice college that you’ve been deferred or placed on their waitlist, the absolute WORST thing you can do is nothing.

If a college puts you on the waitlist, it means they like you and believe you qualify for admission but other applicants have been placed ahead of you. If you’ve been deferred, it generally means they need more information about you to make a decision. They might ask for senior year grades, more test scores or other updates to your qualifications. In either case, it’s essential to take action if the decision is from a school you really hope to attend.

1)    If you were sent a postcard asking if you wish to remain on the waitlist, send it back (maybe with a handwritten note)! You’d be surprised how many students never respond.

2)    Ask your school guidance counselor to reach out to the regional admissions representative for that school to express your interest in attending. He or she can ask what steps you can take to improve your chances of earning admission.

3)    If anything has changed in your credentials, let them know! If your winter team made it to the state finals, if you were named a captain for your spring sport, if you won a DECA award or an award for a photograph, tell your guidance counselor and the admissions office.

4)    Write a letter to the admissions office and your regional admissions representative (you can usually find this person on the admissions website) expressing your interest in attending the school. Tell them why they should admit you (politely of course, but make in convincing). And make the letter a good one. Show it to someone you trust to proofread.

5)    Did you have an alumni interview? If so, ask for this person’s help in making a case for you.

It’s true that some schools don’t end up taking students from the waitlist and many deferrals turn into denials, but the best way to improve your odds is to take action.