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Deferred? Here's What To Do

Did you apply in the early round to a college and get a deferral letter saying that you were neither accepted or rejected, but rather deferred to the regular round? ESM Prep UK College Coach Rachel Edgell walks us through what you should do if this happened to you. 


  1. Congratulate yourself. No, really! Getting deferred means that your application was strong, but there were simply too many similarly strong applications to make a final decision at the time. 
  2. Do your research. In previous years, what percentage of students were deferred by this university? How many of those deferred were eventually accepted in the regular decision round? Does this university allow you to submit any additional application materials? Do you need to officially accept an offer to be considered during the regular decision round? Ask your school counselor to call on your behalf and ask why you were deferred.
  3. Reflect on recent changes. Think about everything you have accomplished since you submitted your application. Have you received another set of grades? Did you retake a standardized test? Have you won any academic or extracurricular awards? Have you begun any new projects? Have you made exciting plans for the rest of the school year? 
  4. Write to the admissions office. Write a letter that you will attach to an email (or upload into your portal) - make sure to follow the college’s specific directions. In the letter, reiterate why you are still hoping to attend this university, describe any updates since you first applied, and ask if there is anything else you could do to improve your application. If this university is still your first choice, or if you know you would commit to attending if accepted, then make that clear. In the email, politely ask if the letter could be included in your file.`
  5. Keep up the good work. Continue to be engaged in everything you do. As tempting as it may be, this is not the time to slack. College will be much easier and more enjoyable if you come fully prepared. 
  6. Be optimistic and realistic. Don’t give up hope, but make sure your other applications are as strong as possible. Remember: you will be accepted to the right college for you. And this time next year, you’ll be at your right-fit college— wherever that may be!
  7. Submit all your other apps before the January deadline. Check that you sent OFFICIAL score reports from the testing agencies – not required for AP tests.
  8. Ask a senior year teacher to write an additional letter of support that can be sent with your school’s updated grades by your guidance counselor. 
  9. Some final advice:   
  • If you have any strings to pull, now is the time to pull them!
  • While we want you to advocate for yourself, don’t become a pest. You don’t want to stalk the admissions office!
  • Don’t let this deferral erode your confidence. Keep focused and remember that the odds these past few years have been at all time lows and you stood out enough not to be rejected!  




Here is a sample deferral letter. Your letter should be written in your authentic voice, and the information does not need to be in any particular order:

Dear [admissions officer’s name],


I am writing to ask if I could please add this letter of additional information to my application materials. I recently learned that I have been deferred and, while I am very grateful to still be in consideration, I am hoping that I will be accepted, as [university name] is my top choice.


I am continuing to challenge myself with classes like XYZ, and I am maintaining a GPA of X while continuing to be involved in my extracurriculars of XXX. In fact, I recently won an award for “Most Improved” on my volleyball team. I have also recently taken the SAT again, and my score improved from a XXXX to a XXXX. 


I applied to [university name] because I appreciate the [specific example not mentioned in your original application]. If accepted, I would commit to attending right away. If there is anything else I could do to further support my application, then please let me know


Thank you very much for your continued consideration,


[Your name]