Deferrals and rejections are an unfortunate part of the college application process that high school seniors will confront each year. While we encourage families to hope for the best, it’s equally important to be prepared for an unfavorable decision following Early Decision/Early Action applications.

Here are some useful tips for students whose early applications have been deferred:

  • Keep your head up! It’s important to stay positive and remember that you are not alone. College admissions has become increasingly competitive, leading to an increase in applications and deferrals. The reality is that a college’s goals, quotas and budget change year-to-year. Applicants who were deferred in 2020 could have been seen as qualified applicants and worthy of acceptance in years past. A letter of deferral or rejection does not define a student’s worth, nor prohibit him or her from future accomplishments!
  • Stay in contact. You and your high school counselor should work to draft a short letter to the admissions office, reaffirming your interest in the school in a respectful manner. In addition, be sure to update the admissions office with any new grades, test scores and/or accolades that you received in the previous months, after your early application was submitted.
  • Send an additional letter of recommendation. For most universities, you should feel free to send an additional letter of recommendation that may shed some new light on your qualities as an applicant. This information can be very useful when it comes time for a second look at your application – just be sure to closely abide by any instructions on your letter of deferral, as some universities specifically do not read additional letters.
  • Consider ED2. Many colleges and universities offer an Early Decision 2 option – students submit an application by (typically) January 1 and receive an admissions decision in mid-February. If admitted in ED2, the student must enroll and withdraw all other applications. Schools that offer ED2 include: University of Chicago, Tufts University, Boston University, Emory University, RPI, Vanderbilt University, Providence College, Syracuse University, Union College, Wake Forest University and Colgate University – among many others!
  • Be ready for January 1 or January 15 RD deadlines. Regular Decision should now be your primary focus. Double and triple check that your applications are finalized and ready to be submitted. While your Early Decision/Early Action school was most likely your top choice, a balanced school list should include additional schools that you would be excited to attend.
About the author
Stephen Friedfeld

Stephen is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.

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