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The early acceptance decisions have been made earlier this year than in previous years. And you got deferred from your first choice. What should you do? You may be disappointed to learn of the deferral, but you also gain time given the early acceptance decision was made earlier. If you were deferred from your “early” choice college and you still want to go there, do the following to increase your chances of admission in regular decision:
1. Wait until the emotions have settled down. You do not want to send a knee-jerk response to your top choice school -- or to any school. Remember that the although the acceptance rates in top colleges have gone down dramatically over the past several years, the total number of available seats in tops schools have increased. So you have a higher chance of getting into a top school today than 30 years ago! For more information, read this post.
2. Request your school counselor to call the college on your behalf. Often admissions officers are more likely to speak with a school counselor than with the student or her family.
3. Listen to the advice the admissions officer provides. Find out why you were deferred. There could be missing information (teacher recommendations, an essay), or they want to see better ACT or SAT scores. Deferring could also be a nice way to say no, or the selection committee simply needs more time and a fuller picture of the applicant pool before making a final decision.
4. Write an "update letter" and address the reasons why you were deferred: improve your test scores and/or GPA, better or missing recommendations, better essay, financial support information, scholarships won, etc. The good news is that you were deferred and not waitlisted. You are a strong contender. If the institution remains your first choice and you will definitely attend no matter where else you are accepted, say that. Be honest. Many students say that but do not attend. Admissions officers know that. Find out more specifics about the program and school and show why it is a good fit for you and for them.
5. Send the letter in the first week of January so that it arrives in plenty of time for regular decision consideration. And do not forget to submit your remaining regular decision applications while you’re dealing with the deferral. Give it the same care you gave to your early applications.