After Being Deferred Next Steps for Your College Admission Journey

You’ve mustered the courage to pour your heart out to your dream college through an early decision application, offering unwavering commitment in exchange for uncertain reciprocity. With bated breath, you await their response, hoping for the sweet embrace of acceptance but bracing for the sting of rejection. Then, it arrives: you’ve been deferred. While not the outright rejection you feared, it’s still a limbo of uncertainty, leaving you feeling powerless in your pursuit of acceptance. However, being deferred doesn’t spell the end of your chances. Here are six actionable steps you can take to bolster your prospects before the regular admissions round. But before diving into strategies, let’s clarify what being deferred actually entails.

Also read Major Selection Effect of College Admissions

After Being Deferred Next Steps for Your College Admission Journey

1) Write a Letter

Compose a heartfelt letter addressed to the Dean of Admission and your designated admissions counselor, reaffirming your unwavering commitment to the college and expressing why it’s the perfect fit for your aspirations. Highlight specific courses, extracurricular activities, or research opportunities that excite you, and maintain a positive and appreciative tone to showcase your resilience and ongoing enthusiasm.

2) Secure Additional Recommendation

Seek out a fresh perspective on your candidacy by requesting a letter of recommendation from someone outside your usual circle. Consider approaching an extracurricular mentor or workplace supervisor who can provide insights into your character and work ethic beyond the classroom. This diverse recommendation can add depth to your application and strengthen your overall profile.

3) Boost Standardized Test Scores

If your SAT or ACT scores are not as strong as you’d like them to be, consider registering for additional tests to improve your standing. Enhanced scores can significantly enhance your chances of admission. Aim to take these tests in January or February, giving yourself ample time before colleges finalize their decisions.

4) Enhance Your Resume

Look for opportunities to enrich your resume and showcase your talents further. If you have a passion for writing, submit an article to your local newspaper. For budding artists, seek out chances to exhibit your work. Similarly, if you excel in mathematics, consider entering a competition. Winning a prestigious scholarship or award can bolster your application and provide a valuable boost, especially for borderline candidates.

5) Demonstrate Interest

If you haven’t had the chance to visit your dream college yet (especially during the pandemic), there are still ways to show your interest. Engage with the school on social media, attend virtual events, or reach out to admissions officers with thoughtful questions via email. These actions demonstrate your eagerness to learn more about the college and can positively impact your application.

6) Focus on Academic Excellence

Strive for top grades in your current coursework, especially in your first semester after being deferred. Strong grades demonstrate your ongoing commitment to academic success and can influence admissions decisions. Additionally, if you feel your standardized test scores could be improved, consider registering for one last test in January or February. Some colleges consider these scores in their regular admissions process, providing another opportunity to strengthen your application.

Also see 10 Top Colleges Offering Rolling Admission

Understanding Your Chances After Deferral

Even with diligent efforts to improve your application, it’s crucial to recognize the harsh reality of the admissions process. For instance, out of over 15,000 early applicants to MIT’s Class of 2026, only around 4.8% received acceptance, leaving the majority deferred for Regular Action consideration. Similarly, UPenn’s Regular Decision acceptance rate in 2021-22 was a mere 4%, significantly lower than its early acceptance rate. While some schools like Harvard defer a large portion of applicants, others such as Duke and Stanford are more inclined to reject outright. These dynamics underscore the unpredictable nature of the admissions process, emphasizing the importance of maintaining realistic expectations and exploring alternative options.

Exploring Other Options

While receiving a deferral may feel disheartening, it’s essential to maintain a realistic perspective moving forward. Instead of fixating solely on your top choice, consider broadening your horizons and exploring other promising opportunities. Remember, there are numerous outstanding institutions eager to welcome students like you into their community. Whether it’s Vanderbilt, UVA, Middlebury, or countless others, each school offers its own unique advantages and opportunities for growth. By remaining open-minded and proactive in your search, you’ll increase your chances of finding the perfect fit for your academic and personal goals.


Receiving a deferral from your top-choice college may feel like a setback, but it’s important to view it as an opportunity for growth and exploration. While the odds of acceptance may seem daunting, there are still many paths to success and fulfillment in higher education. By staying resilient, exploring alternative options, and keeping an open mind, you’ll increase your chances of finding the perfect college fit for your aspirations. Remember, the journey to higher education is about more than just one institution—it’s about finding the right place to thrive and pursue your passions.