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What to Do if You are Deferred

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

With the vast majority of early action and early decision responses back from colleges , it is a time of year where many families struggle with their student being deferred by their top choice college. What to do when a student is deferred can be confusing but it is extremely important to handle the process correctly. Because of this , we thought it would make sense to provide a brief 'to do' list.




1 Understand what your odds are. Getting deferred at different colleges means different things as schools defer and accept different numbers of students depending on how they run their admissions process. A great example of this is looking at the most recent available admissions data from Providence College , Marist College and Fairfield University. Providence , Marist and Fairfield are all schools based in the Northeast that are roughly the same size and have roughly the same acceptance rates . However, the acceptance rate off of their deferral lists is very different with Fairfield accepting under 1% of students who continued the application process after deferral while Marist accepted 21% and Providence accepted 67%. Note that a two year look back at Fairfield's "wait list " shows that while the most recent year of data was a little unusual the school has not accepted more than 3% off the list in the past few years. In brief, there are years of publicly available information for most colleges which allows families to see what their odds are and how realistic it is to think that their student might end up at the school they have been deferred by . It is imperative that families look at the data before they make any decision regarding accepting a spot on a 'wait list' so they know how to best focus their efforts.


2. Understand a college's policy and practice around deferred students. Different schools have different policies as it relates to communication as well as additional materials and it is important that deferred students know what the rules are and follow them. As with most parts of the admissions process, failure to follow rules and directions generally ends in rejection .


3. Write an email of continued interest . If a student is interested in continuing the process and taking a spot on the 'wait list' they should email the Dean of Admissions as well as their regional representative expressing their continued interest, intension to attend if accepted and explain why they believe they are a good 'fit' with the school . Students should try to be specific in their explanation, demonstrating a knowledge of the school.


4. Think outside the box as it relates to supplemental material. Our view is that without compelling new material a student is unlikely to come off the deferred list at most competitive colleges . In addition to the obvious inclusion of updated grades, students should think about recent awards, new and existing extracurricular activities and additional letters of recommendation (when accepted) from sources that can add additional perspective . Remember that in holistic admissions, grades are only part of the decision process and updated data around activities can matter as well.


5. Remain upbeat and look for reasons to contact your regional representative with additional positive news . Representatives matter in the admissions process at most schools and standing out with more additional positive information can only help a student get accepted. Look for positive incremental news to highlight, it could be a top grade on a special project, participation in an event, anything that adds to the resume. Ultimately in the competition between deferred students, those that enhance their application more and are able to speak or email with their representative about it are advantaged.


For those that need help with the process we are happy to get involved.

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