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College Application Deferred? Here's What to Do

It's fun to get acceptance letters and demoralizing to receive rejections, but what if you get stuck in College application Advicecollege admission purgatory?

That's what happens when colleges defer students' applications. These poor souls won't know if they will ultimately be accepted for another 3½ months.

Ironically, students with deferred applications are among the teenagers who applied either early action or early decision in hopes of knowing their fate around the holidays. Colleges won't tell deferred applicants if they've been accepted until the spring when the notices to students who applied regular decision are mailed.

If you were deferred, here are six things you should be doing now:

Avoid a pity party. It can be demoralizing getting a wishy-washy response from a college, but remember that you're in the same boat as thousands upon thousands of great kids. Give yourself a day to mope and then move on.

Contact the school. Call the admission staffer in charge of your geographic area to find out what you can do to boost your acceptance chances. And please don't let one of your parents make the call.

Ask about deferral stats. Some schools routinely dispense deferrals and only reject those who are clearly unfit. According to Sally P. Springer, a coauthor of Admission Matters, Georgetown University defers lots of applicants. In contrast, many schools including Stanford University, defer few applicants. Ask about what percentage of deferred applicants win an acceptance letter.

Write a letter. Send the appropriate admission officer a letter explaining why you want to attend the college and how you would contribute to the school community. Ask your high school guidance counselor to write a note too.

Update the college. Let a college know if you've received any honors or participated in meaningful activities since you submitted your application. Make sure your high school counselor sends your mid-year grade report.

Apply elsewhere. The college that has spurned you might be your first love, but there are all sorts of other suitors out there. Spend time perfecting your other applications and learn from any mistakes that you made with the first one.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also blogs about college for

Further Reading:

Getting a Head Start on the FAFSA

College Admission Season: Will Money Talk?

Guess Who's the Dumbest Generation?

College application image by reviVal. CC 2.0.
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