Most students apply Early Action or Early Decision to at least 1 or 2 schools. One possible outcome is that you’re deferred. This isn’t a rejection. Instead, the admissions committee is saying that right now, given the current applicant pool, admissions criteria, and available spots, they can’t accept you, but they’ll revisit your application later on in the Regular Decision round.
If you’re in this position, don’t panic. Some students take this as a sign that they did something wrong:
- “My application wasn’t good enough.”
- “My essays weren’t strong enough.”
As hard as it is to internalize, a deferral does not mean you did anything wrong. There are a zillion reasons you might have been deferred and many of them have nothing to do with you. So don’t panic, throw out your essays and applications, and start from scratch.
Make sure to read the school’s letter/email very carefully. Often there will be instructions. Some schools will give you the opportunity to submit some kind of additional information (a questionnaire, a short essay, a letter, etc.). If so, make sure to put thought and time into this, as schools 100% read these and make notes in your application profile accordingly.
If a school doesn’t give you explicit instructions along the lines of “submit X,” you can write a Letter of Continued Interest and send it to the school’s admissions office.
Here are some tips for your letter
- Be kind. Don’t overdo it here, but be sure to thank the reader for taking the time to read your letter.
- Be honest. It’s okay to lay your cards on the table. What I mean by that is that it’s perfectly okay to be upfront and tell them that their school is your number one choice.
- After your initial greeting and “thank you” paragraph, spend a paragraph or two updating them on anything interesting that’s happened since you submitted your application (grades, test scores, awards, activities, research, etc.).
- Some people choose to add an additional “Why College-ish” paragraph where they highlight a couple things about the school that they love and that they believe make them an especially good match for the school. Just be careful that you don’t turn this into a full-blown Why College essay.
That’s all you need to do. These should be short and to-the-point. Once you submit your letter, all you can do is go on with life as normal and hope for the best. Under no circumstance should you pester the admissions office with multiple emails asking for updates, whether there’s anything you can do to better your chances, etc. As hard as it is, once you’ve submitted your letter of continued interest, you simply have to wait. But if you’ve written a strong letter, you can rest assured that you’ve taken advantage of the last opportunity you had to make your case for the admissions committee.