Before we talk about college deferment as it applies to your college decisions, we probably need to talk about exactly what being deferred means. College deferral refers to the process in which a college decides to not accept a student's early decision or early action application but instead, the student will be reviewed along with the general application pool. College deferral isn't the best thing to happen to you but it's not the end of the world either.
The New York Times recently reported that college applications for early decision is up this year, contrary to expectations. Education experts had assumed that the recession would bring a drop in these applications, because they prevent students from comparing financial aid offers from multiple schools before making their decisions.
However, many top colleges and universities, including Northwestern University, Brown University, Cornell University, Columbia University in the City of New York, Dartmouth College and Duke University, are all reporting an increase in early decision applications this year.
What’s driving this increase in college applications for early decision? Education experts believe that many students are concerned about getting into college at all, and are using early decision to ensure that they get in to college. The problem for students, however, is that many colleges are not increasing the number of early decision candidates they accept.
What Is Early Decision?
Many colleges and universities offer one of the following early admission policies: early action and early decision. If a prospective college student has identified their top choice college, they can submit their application to that college early to show their commitment to attending that college if they are admitted.
With early action and early decision, a college student must submit the applications to a top school early, usually by November 1st. Where these two programs differ, however, is that early action is a binding agreement between the student and the college. If the student is admitted, they must attend that school; whereas with early action, the student has the option of applying to and attending other colleges.
When a student applies to a college early decision, they can receive one of three responses from the school: Their application can be accepted, rejected or deferred. If a student has been deferred, it will be reconsidered along with regular applications.
What to Do If You’re Deferred
Keep in mind that having your college application deferred is very different from having it rejected. If you are deferred at your dream college, it does not mean that you have no hope of being accepted. It simply means that the college has some concerns about whether you and the school are the right fit.
Call or email the admissions office of the college to find out why you were deferred. It’s important to remain professional when you contact the school to remain on the best terms possible. Reiterate your strong interest in attending that college or university, and ask if you can provide them with additional information or work on any areas to improve your likelihood of being admitted. Also, be sure to ask how many deferred candidates are ultimately accepted. This can give you a realistic idea of how likely it is that your efforts will produce an acceptance at that college.
Once you find out what factors led the school to defer your application, you can work on ways of improving yourself as a candidate. If your grades are the issue, write a letter to let the college know if you’ve scored good grades since you submitted your application. If the concerns are more general, let them know about any organizations you’ve joined or honors you’ve received since you sent in your application. You may even want to submit an additional letter of recommendation from a respected adult who can speak highly of you.
In addition to giving your best effort to getting in to your top college, don’t neglect your other college applications. You may not be accepted to that college, so you should find alternative options that you would be happy with and work toward getting in to those colleges and universities too, in order to give yourself the most options possible.