What Should You Do If Your College Application is Deferred/Wait-listed?

    • Apply Early. If you submit your college application by the “early decision” admission deadline, a deferral
      or placement on the wait-list simply means that your application is then moved into the regular decision applicant pool. This should be your first line of defense. Typically, those who apply for early decision and have their applications ready early have stronger applications overall than those who apply by the regular decision deadline. If you apply for early decision and are then deferred for consideration in the regular applicant pool, you have a strong competitive advantage over the rest of the applicants, and still stand a good chance of ultimately getting an acceptance.


    • In the Meantime. Receiving news that your application has been deferred or wait-listed is discouraging,
      but the worst thing you can do is nothing. There are plenty of things to be done in the meantime to supplement your application during the deferral/wait-list period that can strengthen your application and thus increase your chances of being accepted.


    • Letter of Continued Interest. Draft and send an email and/or physical letter to the college that has
      deferred or wait-listed your application, in which you express a continued interest in attending that institution. Specifically, in this letter you should (1) express why you still have a genuine interest in attending the school, and that you fully intend to enroll there if accepted. If you’re not entirely sure you want to go there, simply state that the college remains one of your top choices. You should also (2) reiterate all the main reasons that you believe this college is the best fit for your academic and personal needs. Be very specific in doing this, referencing professors, courses, activities, or other opportunities offered by the school that interest you. The deferral period also provides you the opportunity to (3) update and supplement your application to reflect any new grades, test scores, accomplishments, or activities that you did not get a chance to include in your original application. Finally, (4) make sure the letter is written in an upbeat and positive manner. Do not go into detail about how disappointed you were to be deferred. Remember, deferral is not rejection! Deferral means that the admissions committee does not want to reject your application; rather, it means that they want more time and information to consider in order to feel confident that admitting you is the right decision for both you and the school.


    • Additional Letters of Recommendation. Most colleges require at least a couple letters of recommendation from your teachers, counselors, or (if you have a part-time job) bosses. The deferral period gives you an opportunity to submit an additional recommendation letter that the admission committee can consider. A good rule of thumb here is to try to find someone to write a letter of recommendation that will be significantly different from the ones the college has already received. For instance, if you have already sent in letters of recommendation from your biology teacher and your chemistry teacher, your additional letter should probably come from someone who has seen a different side of you than your science teachers, such as a history, English, or math teacher.


  • Campus Visits. If you have the opportunity to do so, it is also a great idea to take a campus tour of the college for a number of reasons. First, it is good to get an idea of what the school is like, to confirm that you really do want to attend there. Sit in on classes, speak with the professor before or after class, and talk with current students to see what their thoughts on the school are (you can reference all this in your letter of continued interest, by the way). Also, a campus visit may allow you to meet face-to-face with an admissions representative who can answer any last-minute questions you may have about the school or the admissions process. References: