For many early decision applicants, receiving a deferral is a confusing gray area between acceptance and rejection — but admissions experts say steps to take after deferral are anything but confusing.
Overwhelmingly, admissions insiders advise effective communication with a degree of moderation.
Dean of Admissions Eric Furda suggested that deferred applicants contact the admissions office during the regular decision round with any updates to their applications — new awards, test scores or even additional letters of recommendation — though applicants should not exaggerate their accomplishments in an attempt to impress the admissions office.
“They can demonstrate their interest and update us with only one communication, however they would like to do that,” Furda said, emphasizing that each applicant should only reach out to the admissions office a single time after being deferred. “I just don’t want them to feel like they have to create some other persona.”
Acceptance rates for deferred early applicants are typically a few percentage points higher than overall regular decision acceptance rates, Furda added.
Levia Nahary, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, agreed, recommending deferred applicants submit a “love letter” to the schools they hope to attend. These letters should thank the school for reading the applicant’s materials, provide updates on the applicant’s accomplishments, express specific interest in some aspect of the school and restate the applicant’s commitment to attending.
“You’re declaring your undying love for the school that you applied early decision to,” Nahary said. “What you’re trying to do is communicate to the school that you have a deep-down connection.”
Nahary also highlighted the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and considering alternative options. “Stay healthy and sane about the process, recognize and consider that you have other options going out there,” she said.
However, Nahary warned against any kind of parental involvement in the communication process. “The universities appreciate when a student advocates for themselves much more so than when a parent speaks on their behalf,” she said. “I would strongly advise the applicant himself or herself to speak up.”
Because so many applicants who are deferred do not reach out to the admissions office, Nahary believes sending a letter makes a significant difference for applicants.
“All sorts of communication and contact are taken note of by the universities,” she added.
Wharton freshman Nayyir Ismail, who was deferred in the early round and then accepted in the regular round, took a different approach. He did not contact the admissions office after his deferral because he had already been accepted to another school. However, he also believes applicants have something to gain by making an effort to communicate.
“If there is a significant improvement in your academic credentials, in your extracurricular credentials, then certainly you should take the time to write a letter,” he said. “That, in the long run, especially with the nine percent acceptance rate, might make a huge difference.”
Ismail echoed Furda’s and Nahary’s suggestion that deferred applicants should focus their attention on their other opportunities as well. “Maybe you want to focus your efforts somewhere else,” he added.
Students who applied early to the Class of 2019 and were deferred still have time to submit additional materials to the Office of Admissions. Admissions decisions for the regular round will be released on March 31 at 5 p.m.
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