Accepted, Deferred, or Denied?

Inboxes are diligently checked and snail mail has suddenly become important to your high school senior as they anxiously wait to learn the outcome of their college applications.  

Students who applied early action should begin to hear back from colleges around mid-December through February.  Applicants will either be accepted, deferred, or denied.  Celebrations are a given with acceptance letters, especially if scholarship money is part of the package.  What do you do if your child is deferred or worse, denied?

Heartbroken, your child may think their test scores weren’t high enough or that maybe submitting test scores would have made a difference.  They may think their GPA was too low or that their essay could have been better.  Instead of thinking of ways things could have been different, try to put the rejection into perspective.  Was your child deferred from a highly competitive school like Yale where the admissions percentage is under 10% and students with perfect test scores are turned away?  Were they denied from a college where only a limited number of students are accepted into programs like architecture and nursing?  

Also keep in mind in this unprecedented year, colleges have had to adopt a new approach in evaluating applications.  Factors previously considered in the admissions process have been skewed–not all students have ACT/SAT scores or were able to participate in AP testing. Even second semester junior year grades were impacted as many high schools transitioned to online learning for the first time.  Colleges are faced with having to determine if students are a good fit for their campus with limited data.   

If your child was deferred, their application is still actively being considered. This means the college is looking for additional information.  First semester grades or additional test scores could tilt the scale in your child’s favor.  Submit any new information to the admissions office.

Whether your child was deferred or denied, here are a few things your child can do:

  • Submit new grades or test scores.
  • If denied, ask to be a waitlist candidate or considered for deferment.
  • Call/email admissions and ask about next steps.
  • Write a letter of appeal.
  • Show demonstrated interest.  

Not all colleges will reconsider their decisions or accept letters of appeal, however it doesn’t hurt to try.  You may never know the reason why your child was deferred or denied from a school, and that’s okay.  Rejection is an opportunity to strengthen resilience and take advantage of opportunities that may not have otherwise been considered.




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