Deferred? 8 Things You Can Do

What happens if your child recently received a college admission deferral in the mail?

Plenty of students, who applied to schools via early action and early decision applications, received their deferral notices around the holidays.  The news clearly wasn’t the kind of gift these teenagers were expecting, but students need to understand that a deferral doesn’t mean that their hopes have been dashed. It signifies that a school has not decided whether to accept or reject the applicant and will show its hand when the regular decisions are released.

Just because a college defers a student’s application doesn’t mean the school isn’t interested in him or her. With so many students submitting large numbers of college applications to highly selective schools, these institutions are postponing a decision on more applications.

Students who were deferred shouldn’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves. Here are eight things they can do

1. Send in the card.

Some schools will ask deferred students whether they want to considered in the regular admission pool. If still interested, the student should send in this postcard immediately.

2. Ask your high school counselor to intercede.

If the school is the child’s No. 1 pick, he or she should ask the high school guidance counselor to notify the college of this fact. A friend of mine, who is the college counselor at a private high school, says she will call or email the institution if this school is truly a teenager’s top choice. You can also ask the counselor to inquire what else the applicant with the delayed decision could do.

3. Assess your chances.

Some schools, such as Stanford University defer few students, while schools like Georgetown University defer many. Contact the school to see what percentage of deferred applicants eventually win an acceptance letter. If the odds are poor, prepare yourself mentally to look elsewhere.

4. Write a letter.

Send the appropriate college admission officer (if you don’t know find out) a letter explaining why you want to attend the school and how you would contribute to the school community.

5. Update the school.

Share any relevant news with the school that you didn’t include in your application.  This can include your latest grades as well as honors or activities.

6. Consider another recommendation or two.

I’d ask the school if sending in additional recommendations would potentially be helpful.

7. Look for connections.

I got this idea from Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, a college counselor in San Diego, who suggested that if  a parent or student know faculty, administration or distinguished alumni from the college he/she should solicit suggestions on how to proceed. This might lead to an offer to  make a call or write a letter on the child’s behalf.

8. Look elsewhere.

It’s unfortunate when a teenager gets emotionally attached to a single school. If you child has been deferred, it’s best if he or she gets used to the possibility of attending another institution.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of the second edition of The College Solution:  A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.

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2 Responses to Deferred? 8 Things You Can Do

  1. Anne Brady January 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Very sound advice, Lynn. A deferral notice can leave an applicant feeling helpless, but your post reminds students that they can and should be proactive in order to have the best chance of being accepted in the regular decision process.

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  1. The Latest News on College Admissions and College Life | Parents' Guide to the College Puzzle - January 10, 2013

    […] with a college deferment Lynn O’Shaughnessy shares what actions your high school senior can take if they’ve been deferred in this post on her blog, The College […]

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