Deferred or Waitlisted? How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest
- What Is a Letter of Continued Interest
- What Do Colleges Want to Know About Students Who Have Been Waitlisted or Deferred?
- A General Outline For a Letter of Continued Interest
- Example of a Strong Letter of Continued Interest
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance If You’re Deferred or Waitlisted?
For students who are waitlisted or deferred from a top-choice college, the application process can seem frustrating or even discouraging. If you’ve 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. In this post, we’ll explain what one of these letters entails, how you should go about writing one, and even include an example to inspire your writing.
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 not entirely convinced that you’re going to be a positive contribution to the incoming class. While they recognize your potential, they have more qualified or compelling candidates, and until they hear back from them, they cannot guarantee that 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 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.
You want to convey to the college that you haven’t been sitting around moping over the fact that you weren’t immediately accepted; if anything, you are even more motivated. Tell the school about recent accomplishments like how you worked your AP Physics grade up to an A+ in the third quarter or how you placed first at the state DECA competition in February.
Another good thing to include is a reiteration of why you are still interested in the school. Maybe you visited the campus over winter break and fell in love with the humanities library with original manuscripts from acclaimed writers. If the school has been in the news recently for a scientific breakthrough that excites you, tell them about how eager you are to work with the faculty to further that research.
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.
Also avoid talking about other schools you have been accepted to. Harvard won’t think any better of you if you tout over them you earned a spot at Yale. The focus for this letter should be on the school you are addressing, that’s it. Yes you might have other options at your disposal, but you need to convince the college of your undying interest, so don’t mention any other colleges.
A General Outline For a Letter of Continued Interest
In your introduction you should thank the admissions committee for reviewing your application and let them know that you are still interested in attending. Remember to formally address the letter to the admissions committee, or even better, if you know the recruiter for your school or region address your letter to them.
Be warm, cordial, and respectful in your introduction—don’t start by berating the admissions committee for rejecting you. While you can mention your disappointment, make sure you counter that with more positive emotions to keep the letter forward-thinking and hopeful.
Updates on Accomplishments
Here, you’ll provide information about your accomplishments since you submitted 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.
When considering what you want to update the admissions committee on, try and pick things that relate to your overall application theme. If you wrote about your interest in politics in your essays, tell the school how you recently won a Model UN competition and, as a result, got to visit the UN Headquarters in New York where you got to envision yourself as a diplomat, negotiating treaties on that floor.
Your accomplishments don’t have to be purely academic or extracurricular either. Maybe you lost a family member to cancer and since then you have clarity in pursuing oncology. You could also share an independent project you’ve taken up or a new skill you’ve taught yourself in the past few months.
Just as your college essay needs to be personal, so does your letter of continued interest. After you’ve demonstrated your recent accomplishments, make sure to include some details that humanize you and set you apart from the rest of the waitlist pool. Think about it this way: colleges receive hundreds of these letters, how can you make yours memorable?
Infuse your personality into the letter, whether that be through humor or a personal story that shows qualities like perseverance or curiosity.
At the end of your letter, you want to reiterate your desire to attend the school and your gratitude to the admissions committee for their time and for taking a chance on you. Just as with the opening, you want to end respectfully and positively.
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 on the 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 2027.
(Physically Sign Your Name Here)
What Are Your Chances of Admission If You’re Deferred or Waitlisted?
Usually, the likelihood of deferred applicants getting accepted is akin to those applying through the regular decision process. The pool of applicants for early action or early decision typically comprises the most competitive contenders of the admission season, thus making a compelling application more noticeable during the regular decision phase.
The probability of acceptance from the waitlist fluctuates based on the specific school and the admissions cycle. Broadly speaking, securing a place from the waitlist at an elite institution like Stanford is quite slim, but these odds improve significantly at schools that are less competitive. Regardless of being deferred or having been accepted, a letter of continued interest can boost your chances. College admissions can be challenging given the multitude of factors involved, especially when trying to seek an estimate of your chances of admission. However, CollegeVine’s innovative chancing engine simplifies this process. By incorporating a wide array of variables, including standardized test scores, GPA, and even extracurricular activities, this tool calculates your personalized probability of admission to your chosen school.