Being deferred – what to do? what not to do? — Part II

Being deferred is NOT the same as being rejected. It may feel that way for students, but this year, with a record number of early applications, there has also been a record number of deferrals and even at some schools, skipping the deferral process entirely and moving straight to a wait-list.

A student who applies through early action or early decision is deferred when a college determines that the student has potential but they want to see first-semester senior grades.

So being deferred gives a student a second chance to impress the admissions office. So how should a student respond to a deferral?


  • Visit the college. Even if you have already visited, a follow-up visit where you sit in on a class and/or meet with someone from admissions can set you apart from other applicants.
  • Contact your admissions representative. Find out which person in the admissions office handles your geographic territory. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself via e-mail and ask that person if they can share any thoughts on how you could improve your application. Listen to what they say – don’t argue or complain. It is important to be upbeat and leave a positive impression.
  • Write a letter. Send it to the Director of Admissions and your admissions representative. Focus on your strongest attributes and how you will be able to contribute to the college community.
  • Demonstrate your interest and your commitment. If you are 100 percent sure that if you are accepted you will attend, then say so.
  • Talk about college fit; why the college is a good fit for you and why you are a good fit for the college. Use the letter to update the admissions office on any new information such as leadership roles, awards, scholarships, etc.
  • Send your midyear transcript. Most colleges will specifically request that you send your seventh-semester grades. Follow instructions to the letter and get it done quickly.


  • Don’t be bitter – trust me they know you’re upset, but you’ll serve yourself better in the end if you don’t come across as angry or depressed.
  • Don’t sound desperate – don’t make grand overtures of coming to visit the campus again, meeting or interviewing with staff members
  • Don’t request multiple unsolicited letters of recommendation.
  • Don’t tell them that you’ll do “anything” to be accepted.
  • Don’t whine and complain to the Admissions Office that you deserve to be accepted.
  • Don’t send volumes of e-mails, snail mail or packages hoping to change their minds.
  • Don’t accuse the admissions office of making a mistake in their decision.
  • Don’t compare your SAT scores and GPA with someone else’s who was accepted.
  • Don’t boast about small accomplishments. It is not really worth it to share that your SAT score went up 10 points.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;