How to Handle Getting An Early Action/ Early Decision Deferral or Denial

If a student applied Early Decision or Early Action to any schools, they will be hearing back over the next few months.

But what happens if a student who applied to college receives notification of an Early Action/ Early Decision deferral or denial?

If your application was ACCEPTED:

Enjoy the good news. Take some well-deserved relaxation time! If you were admitted to your Early Decision school, remember that you signed an agreement that you would not apply anywhere else and, more importantly, that you would withdraw any outstanding applications.

If your application was DEFERRED:

Don’t panic; we’ve got you! We understand that it is disappointing, but don’t despair.

A Early Action/ Early Decision deferral means the college application has neither been accepted nor denied—it’s a “maybe.” Unlike a denial, a deferral means there is still a chance of being admitted when the college reviews your application again during the Regular Decision round.

Take this opportunity to strengthen your application. There are a number of steps to take to improve your chances of admission after being deferred. Additionally, we have expert advisors available over winter break to help with essays, application reviews, and comprehensive plans.

Here are the steps you can take to improve your chances of turning that “maybe” into a “yes.”

  • Think positively. Being deferred means that the college saw something good and promising in your application. They want to see the rest of the applicant pool and reevaluate your candidacy in a few months. They also may want to see your first semester grades from senior year or an updated test score. Alternatively, they may encourage you to submit additional materials like updates on extracurricular activities or another recommendation letter.
  • Continue to work hard in school. If you are deferred, colleges will be paying extra attention to your senior year grades when they review your application again. Stay focused and continue to excel in your classes!
  • Read the deferral letter carefully to determine your next steps. Follow the directions. If the college asks you to fill out a form, do so in a timely, thoughtful way. If the college requests your first semester grades, make sure they are sent. If a college specifically states not to send additional information, don’t send anything.
  • If the college allows you to send additional materials, you should absolutely send an email expressing your continued interest (if you are still interested in attending). Sincerely express your continued interest in the school and why you believe it would be the perfect match for you. Think of it as another “Why Us?” essay. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be upbeat. Be interesting. Mention any new and meaningful accomplishments since submitting your application. Accomplishments can include new activities, new awards, new leadership positions, or even an interesting project you are working on in school. And keep the tone positive; do not mention being frustrated or disappointed. Write no more than one page. Need help writing this email? Call International College Counselors.
  • If the college will accept them, send in 1-2 strong and relevant additional recommendations. Consider asking a coach, organization leader, or employer who can add new information to your file. The key is that you want to look for someone who can add something new to your application and not necessarily someone who will continue to say what has already been highlighted. The best recommendations spotlight your unique qualities and how you will use those qualities to contribute to the campus community.
  • Submit other college applications. If you have already applied to other colleges, great. If not, you need to submit applications to a few other schools. Consider Early Decision II (ED II), targeting new schools, strengthening your essays, and revising any new applications.
  • Reach out to ICC for help on any of the above. For the best chances of acceptance, work with a dedicated and experienced team!

If your application was DENIED:

If you didn’t get the news you were hoping for, allow yourself a day or two to feel disappointed, but don’t take the denial personally. Hundreds of thousands of applications are turned down for many different reasons. Colleges simply can’t admit every applicant. Open your mind and explore the other great options out there. Be optimistic—lots of doors are still open!

  • Be proud of yourself. You have accomplished so much, and the college process does not diminish any of that! You’re on the right path to the rest of the great adventure called life. We are so proud of you.
  • Let go. There is no one “perfect” school. We have seen time and time again that many students have been pleasantly surprised by going to a different school than the one they originally planned on or hoped for.
  • Reach out to ICC for help refining your college list moving forward. For the best chances of acceptance, even with an Early Action/ Early Decision deferral, work with a dedicated and experienced team!

INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS TIP: When communicating with colleges, be polite, concise, professional, positive, and enthusiastic. Communication should always come from the student and not the parent.

WRITING HELP FROM EDIT THE WORK: Submit stellar admissions essays and/or deferral letters. Get one-on-one help from our sister company Edit the Work. Essays can make the difference between an acceptance, a deferral, or a denial. Email [email protected] or call 917-969-8664.

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 college advisors at International College Counselors