Deferred or Waitlisted? Don’t Give Up!

Now is the time of year that can be the most stressful for seniors looking ahead to college. Applications are in, and many answers have started to come back through on-line portals, emails, texts and the good old-fashioned oversized envelopes in the mailbox. Some schools have discussed financial awards, others are waiting until we file our taxes, and are able to update the FAFSA with the most current financial information.   Students are visiting schools – for the first, second or even third time, trying to get a closer look and see if this is the place for them.

Students are often unsure of how to proceed when they’ve been waitlisted or deferred. Many feel it’s the same thing as a rejection. The truth is, it’s NOT and if you still REALLY want to be at that school, there are things you can do to show them that you are still very interested!

What is the difference between being wait-listed and being deferred?

hour-glass-illustrationThe Waitlist

If a college tells you that you’ve been placed on the waitlist, it means that you qualify for admission and that they like you, but that other applicants are more of a priority. It’s not the best news you can hear from a school, but it also means you still have a chance of getting in. If other accepted students choose not to go to that school, it opens up a spot for someone like you who is on the waitlist.

A Deferral

If a college defers you, it generally means that admissions hasn’t yet made any decision about you, except that they haven’t outright denied your acceptance. Deferrals from acceptance are mostly relevant to students who applied to a college through Early Action or Early Decision. If you weren’t denied or accepted, your application has been deferred into the regular admissions group and will then compete with all the other applications.  If you are deferred as a regular admissions applicant, it generally means the school wants more information about you before making a final admissions decision – senior year grades, more test scores, letters of recommendation, etc. If they request any information, do your best to get it in as soon as possible as it will speed up the decision process.

So what do I mean, “Don’t Give Up?”   If you’ve been deferred or wait-listed, show the school that you’re still interested, and that you will be an important member of their community! Sign up and participate in on-line chat sessions or join their Facebook page. Send an email to Admissions reaffirming your sincere interest in attending their school.   Be polite, specific, and show that you have good reasons for wanting to attend. Include updates that you didn’t put in your original application – new awards, service activities, AP test scores or a spot on the All Star team – anything new that you are really proud of.

There is the senior who slinks away quietly after being placed on the waitlist, feeling that he has been rejected and is obviously not good enough to be a freshman in that school’s incoming class. And there is the confident soon-to-be high school grad who continues to sincerely demonstrate his interest with positive communication and updates for the Admissions team. Who would you move off the waitlist and accept to join your school?