My Application was Deferred…Now What?

If your early application was deferred, a compelling mid-year update letter can have an impact


It’s one of the tough realities of college admissions: every year, many highly qualified and deserving students apply early and are deferred by a wide range of schools, which means that the admissions office won’t decide on their application until the regular decision round in the spring. There are several different reasons why your application might have been deferred—the admissions office could want to see your first-semester senior-year grades, for example. They could be waiting to see the makeup of their regular decision applicant pool before deciding, or, perhaps, there are some other institutional reasons driving the outcome.

Whatever the reason, if your application was deferred this isn’t the end of the line! You should be thinking carefully about your other options, since admit rates for deferred students tend to be low. But you can maximize your chances of being admitted by writing a concise and compelling mid-year update email.


So, what should you do if your application has been deferred? Here is our advice for writing an effective mid-year update email to your top-choice school:

  • The email should be sent and addressed to whoever signed your deferral letter, typically the Dean of Admissions. Important note: there are a few schools that give specific instructions for mid-year update communication—often requesting that these be sent through applicant portals, rather than emailed to admissions reps. In these cases, you should always follow the instructions provided by the school.
  • Keep it short and to the point—two or three short paragraphs is a good target length.
  • Keep in mind that the email should accomplish three goals: (1) highlighting any updates from the fall (strong grades, exciting research projects, awards or leadership experience, etc.), (2) reiterating that the school is your top choice, and (if applicable) that you would attend if admitted and (3) offering more specific information about why the school is an ideal fit for someone with your interests.
  • The email should not repeat any information that appeared in your initial application.
  • Plan to send the email in late January or early February—once you have your first semester grades and a time in which many admissions offices are updating their application files.
  • If you’ve toured campus or interviewed recently, this could be good to reference.
  • Toward the end, reiterate that you “very much hope” to join ______’s freshman class, and consider concluding with something along the lines of: Please let me know if you would like any additional information. I greatly appreciate the time and consideration you are giving my application.
  • Sign off with a proper closing (e.g., “Sincerely,” or “Best Regards,”) and include your full name, name of high school, and applicant identification number or date of birth.


Don’t forget to show your excitement!

Remember, these updates should be brief and packed with detail. One tip for making the most of your space is to link together your updates from the fall with your excitement about specific opportunities at the school in question. Has a research project you’ve worked on this year gotten you even more excited about certain courses or research opportunities? Has a service project you’ve participated in made you even more focused on great service opportunities in college? Highlighting connections like these can help you very briefly inform your admissions reader about what you’ve been up to since you first applied, and help reiterate why this college is a great fit for you!




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