• a year ago •
Admissions Advice

How should I deal with a deferal?

I found out that I was deferred from my dream school yesterday. I don't think it was a pity deferral because the school doesn't really do those. I am given the option to submit another why this school essay and an activity/accomplishment update. Do you have any advice on what to do? Would it be inappropriate to ask them why I was deferred to tailor my updates for that reason? Thank you.


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• a year ago

Definitely do not write to them to ask them why you were deferred. They are already giving you a lifeline and if you don't know why you were deferred, the answer is very easy. The, probably had 5, 10, perhaps 15 to 20 applicants for every single spot, and the selected applicant did a better job of explaining why they are a better fit to be at this school because a.) the fill a void for a certain profile student they want on campus, b.) they have confidence that that applicant will succeed there and c.) they are uniquely qualified to represent the school.

If this college sent gave you another try at the "Why Us" essay and the Activities/Accomplishment update you are getting 200% more information than most deferred students who get "NADA". These informed clues tell you exactly what you have to do.

1.) Whatever you thought they wanted to read in the past is the past because it didn't work.

2.) Colleges are strategic about how and who they want to fill out their Freshman Class so you have to figure that your explanation of WHY didn't work for them and WHAT you are doing/accomplishments aren't really cutting to the head of the line either.

3.) Colleges have a plethora of qualified applicants with better stats, grades, etc so your uniqueness is incredibly important because if you can provide them with something special they will advocate for you. Think of these questions not as "SELL ME ON YOURSELF" but rather "HOW DO YOU FIT HERE AND WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR US?"

4.) Here's an anecdote my dad's friend who is a successful female business executive told me. "When I interview for a job, they always ask me what makes me uniquely qualified for the position considering it's a very high-powered position with a lot of responsibility? I always tell them, "My number 1 priority is to make you, my boss look good. Why? Because, if I make you look good, you will be happy and grateful for your decision. You will advocate for me and promote me and give me raises and bonuses. If I just look out for myself and do a great job without thinking about how good you look, you will see me as a competitor. You will be threatened and give me fewer opportunities to succeed and thrive. We will both be miserable and I will leave for another job or be fired because the job will be a dead end."

5.) So if you can read between the lines you will see that colleges don't care about what you are going to get out of coming to their school and how you are going to do your own thing and thrive in your own bubble. These are deliberate trick questions to make you think about your new home, your new community, and your new purpose. If you just want a degree in this or that, you can get that anywhere, but if you want to spend 4 years at a Top University or College, then you have to make sure they are looking good, for picking you because you fill their needs, goals, and aspirations for their Freshman Class.

Researching that you want to study with this person or that, or name dropping you want to associate or align yourself with this or that or telling them that you are going to be their best customer of resources is not what they want to hear.

They want to know the real you. The genuine you. The naked (not literally, but figuratively) you. So use this time wisely to figure out if you really fit their culture, their goals their purpose. And then use your recommenders wisely to explain to them how you would like them to advocate for you based on this new information.

If you find yourself in diametric opposition of the culture and types of students they want to accept, then you have to pivot and focus on the schools that a.) will make you happy and b.) will make the school happy.

Case in point, I thought MIT was my number 1 even though I'm not a STEM person. I just like the school, the meritocracy, the hack culture, the weird students. But it turns out MIT doesn't really like me because I'm not really the MIT type. But Columbia loves me, so I'm going to Columbia and I'm happy I got in ED.

• a year ago

Just to echo a couple of points -- if you've been deferred, as you note, you absolutely have a chance. No school defers knowing that they are planning on rejecting you anyways. The other one: absolutely, unequivocally, do not ask why you were deferred.

If you don't have anything for the activity/accomplishment update, that's okay since it's obviously not a huge amount of time for anything to have happened, as @OfHanson points out. If there are certain things that you had projected though in your extracurricular activity in your original application, this would be a good time to revisit it and confirm whatever those things were.

You probably need to write the new why school essay prompt to have a realistic shot at being considered, and it will have to be good. As @CameronBameron says, make sure your essay shows something about yourself but also how that aspect of yourself makes sense with the school, makes it a perfect fit for both parties.

Ideally, you won't just repeat your original essay topics, but whatever you write on make sure that it still make sense with your overall profile/candidacy. If you were a stem or premed applicant, for example, don't suddenly write an essay about how English is your one and only passion because you think that topic will lead to showing the best fit with the school.

• a year ago

I’m not sure about the “asking for a why? or a reason”, but I think you should definitely work extremely hard and smart on the optional credentials they offered once more

Firstly, they gave you an opportunity for a “why us?” essay, right? It’s your time to shine again!! This will mean you absolutely have to do your research on the school! Did you name a faculty member in your previous essay? Did you name programs and classes that will help you achieve your goals? But don’t let these questions fool you, you don’t want to just name people and programs here and there, but you want to explain how they will help you achieve your goals. If they gave you a second chance at the essay, I wouldn’t suggest revising the old one; instead start again from scratch (still keep your goals though) and add to it. This will only help and not hurt.

Secondly, they gave you a chance to update activity/achievement portfolio, right? This means that they are curious: what have you been doing over the last few months, anything new? It’s an UPDATE for a reason, if you haven’t done much of anything new (and I know this is tough because of COVID), then it may not look good. However, don’t be discouraged, because you can add a new hobby you found online such as developing a computer program, a simulator, or a website. Anything! It’s all about exemplifying yourself in a new light; they want to know more!

What does this mean entirely? “ The first thing you should know is that there is a difference between a deferral and being placed on a waitlist. If your application gets deferred, it means that you haven’t been accepted yet…but you might be…later. Hmmm…what are you supposed to do with that?!” (https://www.petersons.com/blog/what-the-waitlist-or-a-deferral-means-for-your-college-acceptance/). “ Students who are not accepted during the early application round are either deferred or denied. ...however, if deferred, this means your application will be held and considered with the rest of the school’s regular decision applications. So there is a bright side! In addition to still being a candidate for admission at the school, being deferred gives you the opportunity to send additional information to strengthen your application in the regular round.” (https://www.ivywise.com/ivywise-knowledgebase/resources/article/what-to-do-if-youve-been-deferred/)

The previous site also suggests writing a “Deferral Letter” as an email—I strongly suggest looking into this from the site and on others. But just know that there is still light to come; you just have to go through the process again! Don’t be discouraged but join absolutely everything you can if it’s still your #1

Hope I helped out!!

• a year ago

I wouldn't ask them why you were deferred, and I doubt they would really tell you. However, you can still express your interest in the school and show yourself as a strong applicant. Definitely submit the Why this School essay and any updates you have about your activities. Also, take some time to research additional reasons/things to mention in the Why this School essay. Talk about stuff that you haven't already mentioned in your first essay, and reinforce the idea that you and the school are a great fit. Good luck with your application!


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