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Deferred from an Ivy League School? Here’s What to Do Next

Dec 26, 2023

Top colleges released their Early Action and Early Decision results last week, and while some students may be experiencing the relief that comes with an early acceptance, others are grappling with the disappointment and worry that accompanies a deferral. If you find yourself in the latter group, it is first and foremost important to recognize that a deferral is not a rejection. A deferral is simply an indication that the admissions committee intends to evaluate your application in the regular decision round—your hopes of attending your dream school may still be realized. While the wait may feel agonizing, you can proactively use this time to give your application one last boost by writing a letter of continued interest.

A letter of continued interest is a brief letter sent to the college from which you have been deferred expressing your persistent desire to attend and notifying them of any relevant updates to your application profile. The letter can have a positive impact on your odds of admission, as it signals to the institution that you will attend if offered a place, thereby increasing their yield rate.

Here are three important steps to crafting a standout letter of continued interest:

1. Personalize your letter.

Begin your letter by addressing the admissions officer responsible for your specific region and high school. This personal touch will establish a direct connection to the committee, showing that you have taken the time to understand the intricacies of the admissions process. Express genuine gratitude for the effort devoted to reviewing your application materials, setting a tone of thoughtfulness and appreciation for the rest of the letter.

2. Convey your growth.

Next, highlight the strides you have taken since initially submitting your application. This should not be a mere list of achievements, but instead a narrative that communicates your personal or academic growth in the months since you hit “submit” Include milestones such as an improved GPA, improved standardized test scores, or recent honors and awards you have earned that were not included in your application. Use this section to showcase not just your accomplishments, but also the proactive steps you’ve taken to enhance your candidacy, demonstrating your self-motivation and potential for improvement.

3. Emphasize your continued desire to attend.

Finally, remember the overarching goal of the letter—to communicate your continued interest in the school. Articulate specific reasons why you are unwavering in your desire to attend. Revisit your initial motivations by re-reading your supplemental essays, notes from your campus visit, and the web page for your intended department or program. As you craft your letter, explain why this institution remains your top choice and include any specific examples of courses, faculty, or campus resources that have impacted your desire to attend that you may not have mentioned in your original application materials. This section is an opportunity to showcase your genuine commitment and understanding of what makes this college the perfect fit for you.

Once you have sent your letter of continued interest, you face the challenging task of waiting—you have done everything you can do to positively influence the admissions outcome. Resist the urge to inundate the school with frequent updates or multiple letters. As Yale’s admissions blog notes, it is often the materials that students initially submitted that ultimately determine the admissions committee’s final decision. Plan to engage in activities that are restful and enjoyable during the waiting period and trust that your hard work will be evident in your application.

Originally published on Forbes.

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