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Deferred by College During Early Admissions. Why: What and How of Navigating Your Deferral

<figcaption itemprop="caption">Wait By brian donovan, edited by O's List under [<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>], <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/58621196@N05/6496264699">via Flickr</a>
Wait By brian donovan, edited by O's List under [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

Every year many students apply early to college. During October and November, students end up using Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), or Restricted Early Action/Single Choice Early Action(REA/SCEA) for their applications.

We have put together a matrix of the possibilities for early application choices that are available to students. Note: There are some collegeS that do not offer any early application plan. In those cases, there is one application round…the regular decision (RD) round.

The Early Application Matrix

Usually the outcomes for the early applications of ED, EA, REA/SCEA are released in mid December. Some colleges release in mid January. The students will have one of the following outcomes from their early applications: EDII is a later round even though it is called the early decision round II.

  1. Accepted
  2. Deferred
  3. Rejected

Accepted and rejected are very straightforward outcomes for the students. However, being deferred is like being in a grey fuzzy zone. You may be wondering what it means and what should your next steps be, or even if you need to take any steps.

So, let’s decode what a deferral means. All it means that the college admissions committee will review your application again at a later application round. The later application round could be the regular decision round or an early decision II round (EDII). Many colleges will give you the choice of deciding which round to participate in with respect to the re consideration of your application, as the deadlines for EDII and RD can be the same date or within a very short time frame of each other. Also note that if you had applied ED and you got deferred, you are released from the binding commitment of the early decision.

So how should you decide what to do? Here are our suggestions:

When the college has ED, EA or REA/SCEA as the early rounds and RD

When a college has only regular decision (RD) as its later round of applications, then you have a simple choice: to let the college know that you are still interested in them and would like to be considered by filing/sending a letter of continued interest ( LOCI) or not responding which indicates that you are no longer interested.

When the college has ED, EA for early rounds and EDII and RD

When you are deferred at a college that has EDII, then you will need to make a choice if you are ready to commit to the college the second time around or would you like to apply EDII elsewhere and shift your “deferred” college to RD (or even a no go). This really depends on you and the level of interest in the college.

Multiple Deferrals

What happens when you are deferred at more than one college? You can send in a letter of continued interest (LOCI) to all your deferred colleges. The only thing to keep in mind is that if you request a consideration for EDII, it can only be done at one college and you will have to notify the other colleges if you get an offer of acceptance from the EDII college. You can apply to other colleges while you send your LOCI to your deferred colleges.

Steps for LOCI

Most colleges will have a procedure for your LOCI. However here is some general advice that can come in handy while writing a LOCI.

  1. Write a positive letter stating that you are still interested in the college and why you are interested in the college. Also state how you would contribute to the college community and how you hope to gain a valued education as their student. Sometimes you just have to fill a form rather than write a letter.
  2. Mention any personal, academic, extra curricular growth that you may have experienced as the fall semester has come to a close. You can also mention if there is any particular class that you may taken that has enhanced your interest or broadened your perspective. This is just to show the college that you are engaged learner. You can also talk of non academic activities that have helped you learn or gain perspective or something that has just enthused.
  3. While many folks feel that LOCI needs to be done as soon as you get a deferral or within a short span of time, we like to give it a bit more time. This is a time of introspection for you, to assess if this is still where you would like to go. If it is, then take time to compose a compelling LOCI and move on to other applications. Make sure you offer the other college applications the same amount of caring, thought and intensity. Most colleges will have a deadline by which you have to let them know of your continued interest, so please be cognizant of that deadline. Send it in before that. If the college does not have a specific deadline, then send it within 2-3 weeks of receiving a deferral (which roughly puts your LOCI on the same timeline as their RD deadline…which should be your baseline).

LOCI and Merit Aid

If you are hoping to get merit aid and you have been deferred by the college, then the chances of you getting merit aid upon re consideration of your application is slim. You may get a token amount if your application is really stellar as compared to all the RD applicants, but that is not a wise assumption to make. If your going to the college is predicated on merit aid, then probably you can declare the college to be a no go after your deferral.

LOCI and Need Based Aid

Need based aid is determined by your and your family’s financial situation. For most need blind colleges, there is no connection between deferral and financial aid. You can go ahead and send your LOCI if you are still interested on the college based on our decision matrix.

Final words here. Deferral happens for many reasons that are probably not fully associated with your application and is due to a combination of many factors. While you may feel a sense of rejection or puzzlement, or other emotions, remember its not just about you. The college has to balance their early acceptances across many axis and your application did not quite land on their multiple balancing axes. Give yourself time to be a little sad and then move on to other applications. There are many wonderful colleges who should have the honor of you being a student at their campus.