Got Deferred from Your Top Choice College? 5 Things You Should Do Now

deferred from collegeBy Carol Barash, PhD

It’s a horrible feeling – you go online to check your admissions status from your top choice college and the news is… Deferred?! Here’s the thing: however ugly it feels, you were not “rejected” – you just didn’t get in to that school yet – and the admissions game is far from over.

What can you do – what should you do – when this happens?  Here are 5 strategies to make sure your applications are on track for a stack of admissions this spring:

1. Clear out negative thoughts.

Whatever you are saying to yourself about why you didn’t get in – plus all that competitive stuff about your friends who did – let it go! Clear out the ugly, and refocus on the unique strengths and dreams you bring to colleges. You are the same person, potentially stronger. This is where leaders dig in and make things happen.

2. Take an honest look at your list.

Is your list balanced? Are there schools that are Likely along with your Reaches? Have you taken every school on your list seriously? Try not to read too much into being deferred. Just make sure that your stretch schools are balanced with some schools where you are likely to get in.


3. Talk honestly with your guidance counselor.

Ask them to help you create a balanced list, including places where they can advocate for you. Talk about your fall grades: if they are strong, that’s great; if not, what does that mean for your overall college process? Let your guidance counselor know that you remain committed to your best college performance.


4. Add new information.

What’s happened since the November Early deadline? Wrote an original research paper? Perhaps the teacher will write you a recommendation. Ran you best time ever in states? Ask your coach to let colleges know. Published a blog that got raves on your favorite web site? Send a link. You don’t want to overdo this, but it’s fine to add solid achievements to your app in January.


4. Raise the stakes.

When you are deferred, you can feel powerless and like colleges are in charge. But it’s really not so! Stick with your challenging courses. Continue to take on leadership and service. Do something each day that makes a difference in your school or community.  And ask your guidance counselor to let colleges know about your ongoing commitments.


5. Make a connection.

Dig deep on the web sites of all the schools on your list. Which courses excite you? Read the professors’ publications. Which majors and activities fit with your strengths? It’s time to pull out the cards of those Admissions officers who visited your school and write emails – or personal notes – to remind them of your specific interest and fit for their school.

Most of all remember to be humble and honest. College admissions officers want to advocate for you – use these 5 strategies to give them what they need to do that successfully.


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