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    College Planning Blog

    Deferred? Waitlisted? Now what?

    by Kevin Krebs on March 30, 2018 in College Admissions Counseling

    As the current college application season starts winding down with Regular Decision announcements being released, it’s important to understand the difference between being deferred and waitlisted.


    I’ve been deferred


    If your application is deferred, don’t panic. It means your application hasn’t been accepted, but it still could be, albeit later. For students who received this designation and applied Early Action or Early Decision, it means their applications have been converted to a Regular Decision application. The application will likely be reviewed again with the Regular Decision applicants. A silver lining here is students in this situation are released from any obligation to attend their school if accepted.


    If you applied Regular Decision and you’ve been deferred, the school likely wants more information before they make a final admissions decision. Additional information can include senior year mid-term and final grades, additional test scores, or additional experiences that continue to demonstrate your interest in the school and major you’re pursuing.


    I’ve been waitlisted


    If you’ve been placed on a waitlist, it means college admissions has completed reviewing your file. Now you will need to wait to see if the school’s freshman class is filled with Regular Decision admitted students. The likelihood of admittance at this stage can be low. This process allows colleges to ensure they have spots they can fill.


    What should you do?


    If you’ve been deferred or waitlisted at your top schools, sending additional information may or may not change the situation. However, there’s nothing wrong with updating your information when it is relevant to do so. The key is to focus on the positive. You can still prove yourself with the college, notably by taking these steps:


    Finish strong

    In the case of a deferral or waitlist, a college is interested in your senior year grades. It is important to have maintained a strong GPA.


    Bring something new to the table

    Have you garnered some sort of award or honor in the time since you submitted your application? Have you undertaken an initiative that involves philanthropy or fundraising? Have you come up with a new idea for an extracurricular project you had been working on? This is a perfect opportunity to add something new to your application that enhances your “standout factor.”


    Submit another letter of recommendation

    Some, though not all, schools will accept an additional letter of recommendation. I suggest this to students, but with a caveat: Only submit another letter if it brings a new wrinkle to the discussion. A letter that simply rehashes what already has been said about you won’t help to build a case for why the school should accept you.


    Write a letter of intent or continued interest

    Play this card only if you are serious about attending this school. The letter is meant to demonstrate your unwavering interest in the college. It declares: “I’ve been deferred, but I’m not deterred.” Or, if you’ve been placed on a waitlist, it can show you are still super-interested in your school. “Attending this university remains my top goal, my dream—and I would appreciate your continued interest in my application.” There’s no need for the letter to be longer than a page. It is advised that students still put a deposit down on one of the schools to which they were accepted.


    Some important information you should find out about the school where you’ve been waitlisted:

    • Ask how many students have been placed on the waitlist this year and last year.
    • Ask how many were offered admission last year.
    • Ask about the types of housing and financial aid available at this point if you are accepted.
    • Ask when students on the waitlist will be notified.


    Students may want to reach out to admissions to gather this information. However, it varies from school to school when students are notified about their status on the waitlist. Having a realistic perspective will help you decide how to move forward. In the meantime, it’s important to move forward with the schools to which you were accepted. And that means, if you are accepted at another school, it’s best to make plans to go there. Make sure to submit everything required including housing deposits and financial aid paperwork. 


    Read more about the Partners For Achievement team.




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