Deferred From the Ivy League? Don’t Panic—Do This Instead.

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For thousands of aspiring Ivy-Leaguers, the dream of an early acceptance becomes, to steal a line from Langston Hughes, a dream deferred. In fact, at many top schools, the deferral rate for early action applicants far exceeds the downright rejection rate. In 2017, Harvard accepted 14.7% of all early action applicants, deferring another 74% and rejecting a scant 9% of early action applicants.

 

If you’ve been deferred at an Ivy League, you may feel discouraged, disappointed, or even frustrated. You’re stuck in limbo, and maybe you’re wondering what you can do about it. Maybe you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to boost your chances at getting in the second time around. Well, we at CollegeVine have some good news for you. There’s no reason to spend the next four months binge watching Netflix . There’s plenty you can do to boost your chances at get into the Ivy League after you’ve been deferred. To learn three time-tested approaches, keep reading.

 

1. Choose One School To Focus On

If you’re deferred from more than one school, you need to choose one school to focus on. The reason for this is two-fold.

 

First, if you spread yourself too thin trying to keep up with all your regular commitments, regular decision applications, and numerous updates to numerous schools, you’ll likely find it’s hard to do a fantastic job at everything. Something’s got to give. For this reason, you’re better off saving your time and energy to focus on one singular school if you’ve been deferred from more than one.

 

Second, you need to focus on only one school because of the promise you’re about to make. Ready to hear it? You need to promise that school that you’ll attend if you’re offered a place there. Think about it—every admissions committee is looking to extend offers to talented, exceptional students who will actually accept the offers extended. If you are able to honestly guarantee that they are your top choice and you’ll definitely attend if given the opportunity, you might just gain a leg up in the admissions process.

 

2. Send a Letter of Continued Interest

A letter of continued interest serves a couple of purposes. Primarily it updates the school on your accomplishments since you submitted your original application. Win a huge science fair? Clinch the state championships? Finally finish the concerto you’ve been composing for four years? Let the admissions committee know about it!

 

In addition, this letter is a chance to let the admissions committee hear your voice again. Write in a way that’s personable and lends insight into who you are as a person. Include some humor or anecdotes if it feels natural. In short, let your personality shine.

 

Finally, this is the place for that promise that you need to issue. Reassure the admissions committee that you’re going to attend if you’re offered a spot. Let them know that they’re your top choice and you can’t wait to join the class of 2022.

 

For more information about writing a letter of continued interest, see our post Deferred or Waitlisted: Tips for Writing A Letter of Continued Interest.

Want to know your real chances of admission?

Estimating your chance of getting into a college is not easy in today’s competitive environment. Thankfully, with our state-of-the-art software and data, we can analyze your academic and extracurricular profile and estimate your chances. Our profile analysis tool can also help you identify the improvement you need to make to enter your dream school.

 

3. Send an Additional Letter of Recommendation

This approach can sometimes be divisive. One school of thought is that an additional recommendation adds weight to your application and provides admissions committees with more insight into your strengths as a student and as a member of the community. Others believe that submitting an additional letter of recommendation without being requested to do so is unnecessary and that your letter perhaps won’t even be read by the admissions committee.

 

Indeed, we have to admit that we can’t guarantee that the admissions committee is going to read your letter, but we can tell you that we’ve never heard of anyone who was rejected just because they sent one. In fact, we have heard from at least one student who believes that his additional letter of recommendation was the difference between his Harvard early action deferral and his Harvard regular decision acceptance.

 

The key to an additional letter of recommendation is ensuring that the teacher who writes it actually has something worthwhile to say about you. Choose a teacher who will be honest, who genuinely enjoys teaching you, and who can speak directly to specific examples of your strengths.

 

If you’ve been deferred from the Ivy League, rest assured that you’re in good company. In fact, most students who apply early decision or early action end up being deferred until regular decision time. You should also rest assured that students can and do get accepted after being deferred. Being deferred is simply the college’s way of saying that they’re interested, and want to review your application again. Instead of sitting around and waiting to hear your fate, take control of your destiny and follow these three tips for turning that deferral into an acceptance.

 

To learn more about requesting a letter of recommendation, see our posts:

 

9 Rules For Requesting Letters of Recommendation from Teachers

How to Get a Standout Recommendation Letter

Should You Submit an Additional Letter of Recommendation?

How to Get College Recommendation Letters: Building Recommender Relationships

 

To learn more about being deferred and what it actually means for you, check out these CollegeVine posts:

 

I Was Deferred — What Now?

The Good and the Bad: How to Handle Early Decision News

I Was Waitlisted — What Do I Do Now?

 

Finally, if you’re still feeling uncertain about your regular decision applications or about the work you need to do to be accepted after having been deferred, you should consider CollegeVine’s Applications Guidance service. Here, you’ll be paired with a personal admissions specialist who can provide step-by-step guidance through the entire application process, including how to perfect your approach to the personal essay.

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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.