Greetings Seniors – Especially Early Decision Applicants.

In Early Decision/Early Action I focused on understanding these college admissions options when submitting your college application and I also provided you with some thoughts on how to evaluate whether Early Decision is the right approach to your college planning.

For a variety of reasons, I don’t encourage most of my clients to submit their Common Application through the Early Decision option. It’s difficult to envision how a teen can feel extraordinarily confident that they found the one university on the planet that is a perfect “fit” – I think choice is important.  For those seniors who are applying to highly selective colleges yes, in some situations it can be strategic to do so – these are discussed at length in my blog. Likewise, students who may have had a rough start to high school often find that attending a collegiate summer program, performing well in these credit-bearing courses and then subsequently submitting an ED college application can also be a strategic college application pathway (Ask me about which college summer programs have very high rates of college acceptances for attendees—let’s talk!).

Well – it’s that time of year and Early Decision and Early Action college admission notifications are being released within the next week to ten days.

student with his miami acceptance letter

Congratulations if you’re accepted ED.  For many in the Early Decision/Early Action pool, one potential outcome is that you may be deferred to the regular decision pool – whereupon your college admissions file will be reviewed again and notification will occur later this spring.

Getting deferred from what was supposedly your first choice university  can be disappointing but there are  some  specific actions available to you improving your chances of an acceptance during the regular admissions cycle.

Rather than being rejected outright- being deferred gives you the opportunity to provide additional information about your application.  Keep in mind- submitting additional information to a college admissions file is an option all students have throughout the college admissions cycle.  Whether you were deferred from ED/EA or sometime later this spring receive a deferral during the regular admissions process- bringing any noteworthy changes since submitting your application to the attention of admissions is a good plan of action.

There’s a fine line between being an applicant “pest” and letting admissions know more about your scientific research – perhaps it was accepted for presentation, or you’ve advanced to nationals in Robotics or Music competitions or were elected class president.  Ideally, having your GC corroborate your success with an “update letter” accompanying your mid-year secondary school report can be beneficial.

If you’re deferred, you’ll be asked if you want to continue to be considered.  Even if this option isn’t made available to you- “continued interest” notes are valuable and making reference to a campus visit and providing new information beyond your reply to the “why us” supplemental college essay prompt will demonstrate sincere and well-informed interest

For all other regular admissions students- please ask me about what if anything is worthy of updating in your admissions file.

Why Was I Deferred?

Sometimes and particularly in highly selective universities, admissions would like to see your performance in the more challenging classes you’re taking during the senior year.  For STEM students– if you didn’t have AP Calculus or AP Science coursework in your junior year, this is often a good reason to avoid applying ED/EA—as these grades from the fall semester are very important for a positive admissions decision.

robotics competition

Academic discovery – increase chances of academic and college admissions success

There is also a silver lining here—time is on your side. Perhaps you’ve reconsidered since submitting the application and now other universities are looking attractive. If you’ve been working with a private college counselor, you undoubtedly submitted a few safety /back-ups but perhaps now want to consider a few other “match” or “reach” universities.

Just because one selective college didn’t accept you ED/EA doesn’t mean another comparable college will react the same to your credentials.

Some colleges will request more information- and your timely and thorough response is essential.

GPA for the first or second quarter, additional teacher recommendations, updates on extracurricular experiences (see above) and even thoughts on “why” you want to continue to be considered are all possibilities and should be responded to in a timely manner.

****If your deferral letter has explicitly noted that students should not submit any additional application materials, adhere to the request with the notable exception- if you win a national prestigious competition – have your guidance counselor update the university on your behalf.


What to Write About in Your College Admissions Deferral Note – and College Application Essay

Be authentic and heartfelt- articulate your vision of education and demonstrate how you will contribute to the campus community and state that you will enroll if accepted.  Elaborate why you want to attend and do make note of specific professors, coursework and student organizations that indicate you’ve done your homework == this is the “informed interest” note that we speak about when answering college specific supplemental essay prompts.

Again, do your best to succinctly highlight noteworthy achievements since submitting your application.

While you have to address the deferral – it’s also time to move forward and begin or complete all of your remaining applications by the deadlines.

Perhaps you didn’t work closely with your guidance counselor or didn’t retain a private college advisor—and well- a review of your original college application is now in order. Students who contact me after receiving a college admisssions deferral often benefit from an application review and it’s typically the essay(s) that weren’t done well- content content content!  I have the experience to assist with updates making a clear and stronger presentation through your update letter, resume and essays to provide supplementary information.


Your deferral may also be an indicator that perhaps your application isn’t in order and as you submit college applications to other colleges- it’s a good idea to take a look at how your essays and activities inputs were presented on the Common Application.

Schedule a DEFERRAL CONSULTATION with College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD

A Sample of Recent Acceptances:

Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, U. Michigan, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, University of North Carolina, Vassar, Bowdoin, Wellesley, Emory, U.Illinois, Notre Dame, NYU, Rice, University of Chicago, Washington University (WUSTL), Drexel, Tulane, Brown, Purdue, Swarthmore, SCAD, Ohio, Georgetown, Hamilton, Reed, Miami, Johns Hopkins, University of Florida, University of Arizona, Penn State, Villanova, Northeastern, SUNY-ESF, St. Johns, Embry-Riddle, Colgate, Fordham, Columbia, Barnard, Syracuse, Swarthmore, Pittsburgh, Dickinson, Colorado, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Howard, Fordham, SUNY Stonybrook, Duke, Case Western, Rochester Institute of Technology, Parsons, Virginia Tech, Boston U., Hobart & William Smith, Claremont Mckenna, Davidson, Westpoint, Gettysburg, Amherst, Temple, Denison, Howard, UT Austin, SUNY-Binghamton, Hamilton, George Washington, American, Indiana, SMU, James Madison, UF, and many more! University of Florida and many more

Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus  –
Cornell University Alumni Rep
In-Person South Florida (Boca Raton) and Metro Denver & Boulder Colorado  << Please view our local pages for high schools and communities of service)
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College Applications - Early Decision