Don’t Hold Back: Advice for Deferred College Applicants

By Jared Griffin 2021-01-22

I’m picturing the scene: It’s 11pm. The new year has settled in. Your Regular Decisions apps are all done and submitted (or at least close to it). Now that the rush of college deadlines has calmed down, with interviews for your secondary choices arising and final exams soon to begin, you’ve finally found yourself a brief moment of peace to devote headspace toward the problem that’s been on your mind ever since mid-December when your world came crashing down: 


What to do about my deferral?



Things were looking fine until that day. You had the grades, you had the essays, but most importantly, the hope. “Admit rates are normally much higher for Early Rounds,” people would tell you. You had a shot. But once that dreadful email arrived, possibility transformed into reality, and, with the countless thousands you’d hoped to beat, you suddenly joined the unenviable pool of not-quite rejects.


Membership in this club is hardly distinguished: it’s rumored that elite schools defer the vast majority of early applicants (those who meet admissions qualifications) to retain the highest chances of selecting an ideal class in the Regular Round (should the influx of new applicants prove lower in standards than expected). Basically, you’re an insurance policy—a guarantee that the college can save face if needed.


None of this feels good, of course. Unlike the lucky rejects, who at least receive the peace of closure, they’ve kept you in a holding pattern, like an indecisive lover. Why give me false hope, you’re probably asking. You’ve heard the statistics—that admit rates for deferred applicants are notoriously lower than RD (Regular Decision), even—yet you can’t quite let it go. Despite all evidence to the contrary, you want to beat the odds. You want to prove to yourself and others that you belong in the Distinguished Club. There’s a spark within that just won’t give up.


Well, you’re in good company. At Athena, we promote the ancient cardinal virtue of Fortitude, or, Courage (Greek: ἀνδρεία, andreía; Latin: fortitudo). Nothing worthwhile in life is achieved without it. Indeed, there are no guarantees your moonshot will succeed, but you have to try. If it’s what you truly want.


Still, sitting at your desk fired up, with your fingers burning to type, you may be at a loss for what to do. Certain schools provide a relatively clear process for deferrala portal allowing for additional materials, such as a letter of continued interest (LOCI) and new grade reports, to be submitted by a deadlinewhile others may provide little at all.


No matter what, however, you have a choice. You have the choice to contact the admissions office directly and put in writing what you know within your heart. You can remind them how ideal a candidate you are, updating them with recent accomplishments and achievements on both the academic and extracurricular level. You can provide enthusiastic detailsfor example, campus history and traditionsas to demonstrate your undying love for the school.


For in the end, this may be your last chance to make an impression on this Club you wish to join. Don’t hold back.