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Deferred or Waitlisted: Tips for Writing A Letter of Continued Interest
For students who are waitlisted or deferred from a top-choice college, the application process can seem frustrating or even discouraging. If you have a received a letter placing you on the waitlist or deferring your early admissions application, you are probably feeling some combination of disappointment and impatience.
You now have to wait even longer to find out if you’ve gotten into the school of your dreams. And worse still, the odds of being accepted off the waitlist are even slimmer than the regular acceptance rate. While you may be feeling powerless, rest assured that there is something you can do during the interim to improve your chances of being accepted.
Writing a letter of continued interest is a smart thing to do if you’ve been waitlisted or deferred. To learn more about what exactly one of these letters is and how you can go about writing one, keep reading.
What Is a Letter of Continued Interest?
If you’ve been waitlisted or deferred, this generally indicates a few things about you as an applicant. First, the good news—the college thinks you’re worth a shot. They believe that you might be a strong candidate. Of course, this doesn’t come without a caveat. Generally, if you’re on the waitlist, the admissions committee is just not entirely convinced that you’re going to be a positive contribution to the incoming class. While they recognize your potential, they had more qualified or compelling candidates, and until they hear back from them, they just aren’t certain they have a place for you.
A letter of continued interest is exactly what it sounds like. It lets the college know that you are definitely still interested in attending, even if you have to wait longer to find out. It also updates the college of any achievements you’ve accomplished since your original application and hopefully convinces them that you will indeed be a positive contributor to the freshman class.
What Do Colleges Want to Know About Students Who Have Been Waitlisted or Deferred?
In general, there are two pieces of information that can help to tip the scale in your favor. Think of it this way—colleges want to fill their freshman class with highly qualified, successful students. To do this, they need to cast a net that’s both wide enough to fill the class, yet fine enough to select only the students who will be truly successful. It’s a careful balance.
So, these colleges generally want to know two things about you. First, are you capable of succeeding at the school in question, and second, will you attend if you are offered a spot?
What To Include In a Letter of Continued Interest
Your letter of continued interest should answer these two questions in a way that is affable and genuine. It should also express gratitude for being offered a place on the waitlist or a deferred decision, because this serves as evidence of positive personality traits, like perseverance and the ability to rise above adversity.
What NOT To Include In a Letter of Continued Interest
We get it; you’re probably feeling frustrated and disappointed. Maybe you feel inadequate or powerless. Talking to friends and family, venting to your peers, or taking it out on the athletic field are all great ways to express these totally valid emotions.
The letter of continued interest is not the place for these feelings, though. Keep your focus on the positives and don’t let any of those negative feelings show through in your letter.
The general outline for a letter of continued interest is as follows:
In your introduction you should thank the admissions committee for reviewing your application and let them know that you are still interested in attending.
Updates on Accomplishments
Here, you’ll provide information about your accomplishments since your original application. Do not repeat accomplishments or any information already on your application—the admissions committee already has this information and if you submit it again, it will look like you haven’t achieved anything since. Limit your updates to 2-3 topics and be sure to explain briefly what the update is, what level of accomplishment it illustrates, and how it has contributed to your overall character/development.
This conclusion should offer some insight into your personality and provide a humanizing factor that sets you apart from the rest of the waitlist pool.
Here, you reiterate your desire to attend the school and your gratitude to the admissions committee for their time and for taking a chance on you.
Example of a Strong Letter of Continued Interest:
Dear College of My Dreams, (obviously you would put the actual college name here)
I would like to sincerely thank the College of My Dreams Admissions Committee for taking the time to look through my application amongst the thousands of applicants and offering me an opportunity to be on the waitlist. College of My Dreams is still my dream school, and if accepted off the waitlist, I would happily attend. I would like to take this opportunity to display my continued interest in CMD and update the Admissions Committee on some of my accomplishments since applying.
Since applying in January, I have been making substantial progress on my research project for Intel ISEF. My project seeks to test whether statistical regression and neural networking can predict geo-political conflicts in developing nations. I have been developing an algorithm to analyze such patterns using a framework of a naïve Bayes classifier under the guidance of Mr. CollegeVine, the Technology General Manager at CollegeVine Tech LLC.
This project has completely changed my perceptions of the unique dynamics implicit in a complex geo-political struggle. Additionally, I have gained an even greater appreciation for computer science’s broad applicability to solve qualitative challenges, while feeding my lifelong curiosity about international relations. It would be nice if I could eventually achieve my goal of making basic predictions about such conflicts… I wouldn’t complain either if my program found itself in the CIA’s computer system one day!
I also continued my role as a leader on the varsity basketball team this winter. Recently I was named the Northeast Elite Team MVP and was named to the All-East All Star Team. In February, I scored 34 points in our league playoff game and was recognized as the national player of the week by Basketball Weekly. We are currently gearing up for the league championship game, so lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the gym, getting in peak shape and practicing my free throws. (That one I missed against our cross town rivals earlier this year continues to haunt me!)
Finally, I have stopped trying to beat my nine-year-old sister at Wii. Even as the captain of my school’s basketball team, I still lose miserably whenever she chooses to play me in the digital version. I’ve now realized my best efforts are futile and I’m focusing on time and efforts on more fruitful pursuits.
CMD has distinguished itself as a top institution for me, and I am continuously in awe as I read about its amazing work in helping students achieve their dreams. I would like to thank the Office of Undergraduate Admissions once again for reviewing my application, and I would eagerly matriculate if offered a position in the Class of 2018.
(Physically Sign Your Name Here)
For more information about waitlists or deferrals, see these CollegeVine posts: