So… I got deferred. What next?

Written by Koko Lotharukpong—Head of Resources

So… I got deferred. What next?

Early Action / Early Decision replies have all come in at last. This period is typically considered to be a time of sheer ecstasy, for those who achieved admission to their dream universities, or despondency, for those who weren’t so lucky. But what if you received a deferral?

Last year, I applied Early Action and I was deferred. I distinctly remember receiving the email notification on my phone whilst having dinner with my friends. After opening the letter, I remember I felt numb. My instinctive response was to think it’s over. (Dramatic, I know.) But my friends told me to calm down and that deferrals weren’t necessarily rejections.

I didn’t know much about deferrals before it happened. I think most people, including me, are fixated on the “in” or “out” possibility of acceptance or rejection. Deferral’s strange – it’s essentially the university kicking the can down the road. You’re stuck in this state of limbo. What is a deferral anyway?

An admissions deferral means that a decision on your application will be given at a later, deferred, date. The date is likely to be on the decision date for regular applicants. So, while disappointment is a completely reasonable reaction, a deferral doesn’t actually mean it’s over. A deferral is simply a second chance at admission.

In fact, a deferral is actually saying that your application was strong or impressive enough not to be discarded by the school. Remember, the college’s admissions team would likely have rejected you if they thought your application didn’t meet their standards. So, while you are clearly not a top choice candidate, there’s still a reasonable chance of acceptance in the regular round.

A deferred application will typically be reviewed again within the context of the regular applicant pool. For many students, this can be an advantage, because the regular pool is usually not as strong as the early pool. A deferral could also give you the chance to show the improvement in your grades or other impressive events that you have achieved since applying in the early round.

So, what next?

Personally, what I did was to first sit down and really think about the university I applied to. Do I still want to go there? This may seem silly, but I think it’s an important step. Sometimes, a deferral can be a wake up call for you to realize you don’t actually want to go to that university.

If you still want to go to that university, I would read your deferral letter in full. What does it say? What can you do to improve your chances of acceptance? Can you send an updated transcript? Or not? Maybe the letter explicitly states that they don’t want new documents. If you have a Careers counsellor, talk to them and let them know what you’re thinking. Together, you can formulate a plan to move forward.

Some other steps you might consider is to review your college application list. Is it too ambitious? A deferral can help to make sure you’re applying to the right mix of schools. You could also get started on a deferral letter, if the university recommends or allows you to do so. This could be a tool where you can demonstrate your continued interest in the college, which could be advantageous. Of course, you can also continue (or start!) your regular decision applications.

Finally, don’t forget to stay positive and work hard. Getting deferred is tough, but it can incentivise you! I wish you all the best of luck.

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