8 Tips for Handling a College Deferral

Many students who apply to college Early Decision or Early Action find that they’ve been deferred. Remember, a deferral does not equal rejection! The college is asking for additional time to make their decision. Oftentimes the college needs more information about either the individual student or their applicant pool. Fortunately, there are things students can do to improve their chances of turning the “maybe” into a “yes.”
Here are some suggestions to improve the likelihood of college admissions:
  1. Don’t panic. The college saw something good and promising in your application.
  2. Get information.  Contact the school’s admissions office and see if you can find out why you were deferred.  Ask to speak directly with an admissions counselor. This call should only last 4-5 minutes and your goal is to make great impression.   But, first, make absolutely sure that the college doesn’t ask specifically for students NOT to call.  You can find this on their website or by making a quick anonymous call a few hours or days before you make the important call. During the important call to the admissions officer, we suggest you do the following: 1) Politely ask why your application was deferred. Engage in a short conversation about it. Do not get angry or be defensive. 2) Ask for suggestions on how to turn your deferral into an acceptance. 3) Reconfirm your desire to attend the school and your commitment to attend if you are accepted. If you aren’t sure what to say, contact your International College Counselors advisor for help.
  3. Improve your standardized test scores. If financially possible, hire a tutor who specializes in test prep. This is especially important if you think the scores you submitted don’t represent you.  Call one of our advisors to help you find a great tutor.  But know schools do reject students with near perfect scores.  Holistic review is a real thing.
  4. Send in your midyear grades, if the college asks for them.  Make sure you meet the college’s deadline.  Many colleges strongly consider your senior year first semester grades, which is another reason why it’s important not to let your grades slide.
  5. Write a letter. Sincerely express your continued interest in the school and why you believe it would be the perfect match for you. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be upbeat. Be interesting. Be positive. Mention any new and meaningful accomplishments that happened after you sent in your application. Accomplishments can include new activities, new awards, or leadership positions. Your International College Counselors advisor or editthework.com will be glad to help you with this.
  6. Send in 1-2 strong and relevant additional recommendations. The best recommendations spotlight your unique qualities and why they make you an ideal match for a school. Do not send a generic recommendation.  Before you send this, though, make sure you check to see if the college allows extra letters. Most schools will let you send them.
  7. Let it go.  There is no one “perfect” school.  Life is full of surprises and many students have been pleasantly surprised by going to a different school than what was originally planned.
  8. Be proud of yourself.  You’re on the right path to the rest of the great adventure called life.
INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS TIP: At all times while communicating with the college, be polite, concise, professional, positive and enthusiastic. Don’t express frustration or anger or try to convince the school they made a mistake.  
If you need help handling your deferral or if you’re applying to additional colleges and need someone to look over your application, contact our expert college advisors at International College Counselors