You’ve Been Deferred: Now What?

by | Feb 20, 2024 | College Admissions, College Planning | 0 comments

If you’ve gotten a deferral notice, it’s important to take a step back, breathe, and assess your next steps.

While a deferral for your college application can feel like a huge blow, it’s not the same as a rejection, and what you do next can have a huge impact on your overall outcome.

Let’s take a closer look at how deferral works and what it means for you — especially if you still have your sights set on your dream school!

What is a Deferral?

As Forbes explains, “Deferral is the purgatory of college admissions; it’s not quite a rejection, but it’s not an acceptance, either.”Deferrals are given to early decision or early action students who showed potential but didn’t quite make the cut for an offer of enrollment at this point in the process. One of the primary benefits of being an early applicant is that you can get an early decision, securing your spot and ending the “what ifs.”

A deferral, however, thrusts that diligently early student right into the uncertainty they were hoping to avoid!

Why Have You Been Deferred?

There are many reasons that a school might choose to defer an applicant. It’s possible that the admissions committee wants to take a closer look at your application and will defer so that they have more time to do so.

It’s also possible that the entire program is highly competitive and that the committee has decided they want to see applicants’ senior year grades before making decisions.

They may have had more early applicants than they expected and need to wait to hear back from those higher on the admissions list before making a decision about your application.

Regardless of the reason, the outcome is the same: you’re on the “maybe” list.

What Happens Next?

After you’ve been deferred, your application will be put forward with the regular applicants — those students who didn’t apply for early decision or early action.

This state of uncertainty can definitely make it harder to plan, but that doesn’t mean that you are powerless. There are several actions you can take to make the most of this outcome:

Look at Other Schools: You may still get into the school that deferred you, but it’s important to face the reality that you might not be accepted. Don’t let the waiting period slip by and close doors for other options! Use this time to apply to other schools and expand your possibilities.

Write a Letter of Interest: You don’t want to hound the admissions office or complain about the deferral, but a politely worded letter of interest that responds to the deferral with assurance that you are still invested in the school and hope to join their incoming class can go a long way.

Check Your Application: Go back over your application and see if there are details that need to be updated, more recent test scores or achievements that need to be added, or any gaps that need to be addressed.

Prepare to Send Materials: The school will almost certainly want to see the grades from your first semester of senior year. Get these in without delay so that you can be among the first deferred candidates they consider.

It can be disappointing to get a deferral when you were hoping for an acceptance, but it’s important to keep things in perspective and move forward with intention. Your college application process is a journey and this is a detour, not the end of the road!


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