52 Weeks to College: Week 31 — Deferral Updates

If you've already submitted your best and most compelling application — your standout application — is an application postscript ever be warranted? Yes! In three cases:

1. When you have significant updates to your application

2. When you have been deferred

3. When you have been waitlisted

This week, we're focusing on the deferral scenario. 

If you've applied early to one or more colleges, the decision letter might not actually contain a final decision. Instead of being admitted or denied, you might be notified that you've been deferred. Although that news is no doubt disappointing, you have not been denied. And that is indeed good news, because your deferred application will be reconsidered in the regular round of decision making. You get a second bite at the apple without suffering any penalty for having applied early. A deferral is basically a second chance at being admitted. Nice!

What does a deferral indicate? It means that the admissions officer is on the fence about whether to admit or deny you. He or she wants more information before a final decision is made. The admissions officer might want to see how things go in your senior year, or she may want to see how you stack up against the larger Regular Decision pool of applicants, or both. 

That's where updates come in. You want to provide updates that have a positive influence on the admissions officer. Not all updates accomplish that. That is why you must update with a purpose

Week 31 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Send deferral updates.
  • Interview with colleges.
  • Finish your FAFSA and keep copies of all the underlying documentation.

Tips & Tricks

1. Update with a purpose. See our tips in Week 23 for the most effective updates to be sending. 

2. Format your updates as a short essay or a bulleted list. Keep the updates simple and easy for the admissions officer to read and digest.

3. Talk to your college counselor. Ask your counselor for help in the form of an updated note with the midyear report or an optional report.

You can read more about deferral updates in chapter 23 of our book.

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.