By Emma Ritz
Last December, I was thrown into a panic when I was deferred from my dream school in the early admission round. Luckily, a college deferral is not a rejection, though it sure felt that way at the time. Here are the steps I took after getting my deferral. Good news: I eventually got in!
Turning a College Deferral into an Offer of Admission
1. I drafted an interest letter.
Immediately, I began drafting an interest letter. I described what I had been up to since I sent in my original application. The letter went through numerous edits. And each subsequent draft was unrecognizable from the one before it. In the words of my college counselor, my first version was “salty” (read: angry). However, with enough work, it became a coherent (and even polite) document. Most importantly, it did an excellent job of pleading my case. I included updates: my improved grades, a recently published piece, new awards, and details about a completed history intensive. I also reiterated some achievements from my original application. And I assured the admissions staff that the college was still my first choice. The letter was approximately one page, single-spaced.
2. I finished my other applications.
After drafting my interest letter, I resumed working on applications for other colleges. As parents like to say, it’s never wise to put all your eggs in one basket. So after my college deferral, I pulled together a list of schools similar to my first choice. In all, I submitted an additional seven applications regular decision. This number may seem high, but I was somewhat paranoid from my deferral. I wanted to make that I’d be accepted somewhere.
3. I kept my grades up.
Many seniors don’t work as hard in the second semester as the finish line approaches. Unfortunately, if you’re deferred from your dream school, this is a bad idea. Colleges will often ask for grades from the interim period from when you submitted your original application. So it’s important to be able to show that you’re still committed. I (mostly) resisted the bountiful temptations of Netflix. Instead, I spent second semester senior year meeting with teachers for help, and trying to turn a B+ into an A-, or an A- into a regular A. My interim grades ended up being the best of the year.
4. I was open to different types of admittance.
Eventually, I was accepted to my top choice as a January applicant. This meant that I would begin class on campus second semester freshmen year. Many schools have these programs for students who are initially deferred. “Jans” typically spend their first semester either taking classes through an international program (think of it as a mini gap year), at a community college, completing an internship, or working. While this may not have been my original plan, in the end, I embraced it as an amazing opportunity to explore new places and take a break before embarking on the full college experience.
Emma Ritz is a freshman at Hamilton College.