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With most colleges accepting less than half of their Early Decision applicants (and many accepting less than 20%), many students, unfortunately, will find themselves in the Deferred pool. Is it possible to improve one’s chance of admission?

Former admissions officers from AdmissionsCheckup, a Wilton-based, online application review service that helps students get admitted, agree that there are some things students can do between now and the end of February that may help move their applications to the “Admit” pile.

“A deferral is not a denial, and it is possible to improve one’s chance of admission,” notes Stephanie Klein Wassink, founder of and a former Northwestern admissions officer.

  1. Write a very brief letter to the admissions representative now acknowledging the deferral and indicate while disappointed, the school remains the top choice.
  2. Keep a list of any new accomplishments, awards and improved grades that will provide additional strength to your application. Be mindful of directions from the school and how and when they want this information. Most of the former admissions officers from suggest sending a letter or email in late January with any updates, followed by a quick note at the end of February, stating “College X continues to be my first choice. Thank you for considering my application in the regular pool.”
  3. Don’t let senioritis hit too early! A strong showing in the classroom senior year is often the key to tipping the scales.  And buckling down and studying is something that is in the student’s direct control.
  4. Schedule an interview if you have not had one already. Be sure to practice your interview skills with a seasoned interviewer until you are confident your skills are strong.
  5. Find someone who is objective to give your application a fresh read. Perhaps, unknowingly, you gave the wrong impression or neglected to include something important. This will enable you to send the school a clarification as well as head off a similar miscommunication with another school.
  6. Visit the campus again, if possible. Attend an information session and ask questions such as “What percent of students are typically admitted after being deferred?” and “Is there anything I can do that might increase my chances of gaining admission?” This will earmark you as a deferred candidate, and the admissions representative may note your visit and strong school interest.
  7. Ask your college/school guidance counselor if there is anything they can do to help or if they have any suggestions.
  8. Being admitted after a deferral depends a good deal on the specific school. Read the letter closely and check online to see if the school has a history of accepting fewer early applicants and therefore your chances are better.
  9. It is still important not to put all your eggs in one basket–focus energy on the other schools on your list, once you have completed the above tasks.

AdmissionsCheckup can review your deferred application to find any red flags or missed opportunities, so you approach the admissions office with new and improved information (email AdmissionsCheckup for a $30 coupon). Their former admissions officers spent an average of eight years in the admissions offices of more than 60 colleges and universities including Georgetown, Yale, University of Virginia, Columbia, Tufts, Williams, UPENN and many more. Founder Stephanie Klein Wassink is a long-time college consultant and former admissions officer. For more information, visit the website.