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Navigating the College Admission Rollercoaster: What to Do When Deferred from Your Dream School

The college application process is undoubtedly a rollercoaster of emotions, and one of the most challenging twists comes when high school students are deferred from their top-choice college. While receiving a deferral might feel like a setback, it's essential to remember that the journey isn't over. In fact, it's an opportunity to reassess, reevaluate, and turn things around. 


First and foremost, understand what a deferral means. Being deferred doesn't mean rejection; it simply means that the college has chosen to review your application again in the regular decision pool. This is your chance to strengthen your application and demonstrate continued interest.


Take a step back and review what the deferral letter states. Does the university share information not to send any further information, or do they provide instructions to put additional information in a portal? Follow these instructions accordingly and reflect on your application. Consider seeking feedback from teachers, counselors, or mentors to gain insights into areas you can improve. Assess your academic and extracurricular achievements, and think about how to present them more effectively if there is an opportunity to submit more information.


Academic Updates: Colleges often request mid-year or updated transcripts for deferred students. Use this opportunity to showcase your commitment to academic excellence. Maintain or improve your grades, as this demonstrates consistency and dedication to your education.


Extracurricular Achievements: If you've accomplished significant achievements or undertaken new projects since submitting your application, compile them into an updated resume or portfolio. This allows you to showcase your continued growth and commitment to your passions.


Craft a thoughtful and well-written letter to the admissions office expressing your continued interest in the school. Highlight any new achievements, activities, or insights gained since the initial application. Use this letter to reaffirm why the college is your top choice.

Consider obtaining additional letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or employers who can provide fresh perspectives on your character, abilities, and potential contributions to the college community.


While waiting for a final decision, maintain a positive outlook. Explore alternative college options and continue applying to other schools. Remember that many successful individuals have thrived after attending their second or even third-choice colleges.

While optimism is essential, preparing for the possibility of not being admitted is also prudent. Have a backup plan and explore alternative paths, such as gap years, internships, or attending a different college. Remember that success is not limited to a specific institution.


Receiving a deferral from your dream college may feel disheartening, but it's not the end of the road. Use this period as an opportunity for growth, self-reflection, and improvement. Taking proactive steps, demonstrating your continued commitment, and exploring alternative paths can turn a deferral into a stepping stone toward an amazing college experience. For more help with writing letters of continued interest or additional supplemental essays, connect with me today to explore Resume All Day’s essay coaching offerings.




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