When you apply to a college early action or decision, there are three possible outcomes. The majority of applicants fall into the first two categories: accepted and denied. However, for some, the answer isn’t so straightforward. Students who are deferred have applications that are competitive enough to be reconsidered but were not successful in the initial application round. At some schools, like Georgetown, all early students are deferred to the regular round. If you were deferred, you might be feeling disappointed, worried, confused, or hopeful. At Command, we help students go from the deferral pile to the acceptance pile every year, so here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about deferrals.

Why was I deferred?

Just because you were deferred, doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough for that college. The early application pool tends to be more competitive than the regular round. Students who apply ED to a school tend to be very determined to get accepted, so their application essays are of a high caliber. Plus, ED and EA application rounds attract more legacy students, who have a leg up in the admissions process already. So even though EA and ED acceptance rates are consistently higher than RD acceptance rates, it’s a much more competitive group of students and the admissions process is skewed. This makes it less likely for even the most talented students to get accepted.

What’s the difference between waitlisted and deferred?

Much like students on the waitlist from Regular Decision applications, there’s still hope for deferred students. The main difference between being waitlisted and deferred is the time at which you’ll be notified of admission (deferred students find out at the same time as RD students whereas waitlisted students might not find out until a few weeks before the school year starts). Additionally, waitlisted students have to hope that another admitted student decides not to matriculate in order for a spot to open up for them. Deferred students are merely reconsidered in comparison to RD applicants. Since the RD application pool consists of fewer legacy kids and more “average” students, your chances are likely higher of being admitted than they are in the early round.

How do I write a letter of continued interest?

A letter of continued interest is just what it sounds like; it’s a space for you to demonstrate your ongoing interest in a college and your determination to attend that school. You should show off your personality and passion about the school in a friendly letter to your regional admissions officer. For an in-depth guide on how to write a letter of continued interest, check out this blog post.

What are my chances of getting accepted?

Most colleges don’t release the admissions rates of deferred students, so it’s hard to say what your chances of getting accepted are. Plus, it varies by school and can fluctuate depending on the number of applicants. The one thing we do know is that your chance of admission increases when you put in the effort to follow up with the school and demonstrate what kind of student you are by writing a letter of continued interest. Remember colleges care a lot about yield rate (that’s why Early Decision exists in the first place!). If you show your admissions officer that you’re serious about attending, they’ll be more likely to reconsider your application in a more positive light.

If I get in Regular Decision, am I still bound to this college?

Time for some good news: if you were deferred after applying Early Decision, the ED contract to enroll no longer applies. Instead, the same rules that apply to Regular Decision applicants applies to you, as you’re now considered an RD applicant.

What if I changed my mind?

You can also withdraw your application altogether. If you’ve discovered another college that you are more interested in or got into one of your other early schools, you can focus your energy on the positive instead of waiting anxiously for a decision. You can also apply to another school that has ED II, which is also binding but is due at the regular application deadline. Since ED II is a binding application, it has a higher acceptance rate than Regular Decision.

Regardless of what you decide to do after you’ve been deferred, you don’t need to feel defeated or hopeless. There is still a chance you’ll be accepted during the Regular Decision round, or admitted to another school that turns out to be a better match for you! The key is to keep up the hard work while writing supplemental essays for remaining college applications and to send a compelling letter of continued interest to your admissions officer.

You may also like

What do I do if I get waitlisted?

How do I choose a college?