College deferral doldrums

acceptance letter

Spring is the time of year when high school seniors are hoping to hear if they were accepted into the college or university of their choice. Many of those seniors, eager and set on a particular school, applied for early action or early decision back in November with the hope that their promptness and eagerness would help secure their place. Instead, a large percentage of them received a letter classifying them as "deferred"-not accepted, not rejected, but in limbo. As many seniors have discovered, the number of students caught in the deferment trap is on the rise, as is the number of students who apply for early admission. Unfortunately, receiving that deferment letter is more unsettling than receiving a rejection.
In the ever-increasing effort to get ahead in the process, more college-bound high school students are applying in the fall for either early decision-which means they will sign on if accepted-or early action-which means, even if the student is granted admission, he has until May 1 to accept. Those who apply for early decision have a slightly better chance of getting into the school of their choice than those who apply during the regular application time, but those that apply for early action often do not gain leverage. College can always wait to see if a better applicant comes around in the regular pool.
Colleges sort through hundreds of early applications from both national and foreign students. Those who receive deferral letters are basically thrown back into the pool of applicants, and are left waiting and wondering as if they had never applied early. It is a frustrating situation for a high school senior who desperately wants to attend a certain college-she knows she hasn't been rejected, but she doesn't really know what her chances are of being accepted. So, what to do?
• Write a letter to admissions of the deferring school. Express your continued interest; confirm that you are prepared to enroll upon acceptance; blatantly profess your academic, social, and community accomplishments you have achieved since your original application; and specifically state why the school is a great match for you (for example, show your interest in a particular field for which the school is renowned).
• Seek the support of your high school counselor-ask him or her to write a letter or call the admissions office to state why you are such a good candidate. The reason should not be a repeat of an achievement that you have already informed them of, but of some extra quality or accomplishment that the counselor sees in you.
• Have a Plan B. Hopefully you applied to more than one school. Reset your expectations and be prepared to accept the invitation from college choice number two, three, or even lower.
Although some students may see Plan B as a failure, it is actually just as good an opportunity as Plan A. Students should remember that it is the effort they put into their college experience that truly makes it successful and positive. Instead of letting a deferral letter put you in limbo, take charge and move ahead. Your second or third or fourth college choice may prove to be everything you wanted. And besides, college choice number one can still be a possibility if you decide to attend graduate school in the future.
P. Carol Jones is the author of "Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able?" Learn more about preparing your teens for college success at http://www.towardcollegesuccess.com.
Spring is the time of year when high school seniors are hoping to hear if they were accepted into the college or university of their choice. Many of those seniors, eager and set on a particular school, applied for early action or early decision back in November with the hope that their promptness and eagerness would help secure their place. Instead, a large percentage of them received a letter classifying them as "deferred"-not accepted, not rejected, but in limbo. As many seniors have discovered, the number of students caught in the deferment trap is on the rise, as is the number of students who apply for early admission. Unfortunately, receiving that deferment letter is more unsettling than receiving a rejection.

In the ever-increasing effort to get ahead in the process, more college-bound high school students are applying in the fall for either early decision-which means they will sign on if accepted-or early action-which means, even if the student is granted admission, he has until May 1 to accept. Those who apply for early decision have a slightly better chance of getting into the school of their choice than those who apply during the regular application time, but those that apply for early action often do not gain leverage. College can always wait to see if a better applicant comes around in the regular pool.

Colleges sort through hundreds of early applications from both national and foreign students. Those who receive deferral letters are basically thrown back into the pool of applicants, and are left waiting and wondering as if they had never applied early. It is a frustrating situation for a high school senior who desperately wants to attend a certain college-she knows she hasn't been rejected, but she doesn't really know what her chances are of being accepted. So, what to do?

• Write a letter to admissions of the deferring school. Express your continued interest; confirm that you are prepared to enroll upon acceptance; blatantly profess your academic, social, and community accomplishments you have achieved since your original application; and specifically state why the school is a great match for you (for example, show your interest in a particular field for which the school is renowned).

• Seek the support of your high school counselor-ask him or her to write a letter or call the admissions office to state why you are such a good candidate. The reason should not be a repeat of an achievement that you have already informed them of, but of some extra quality or accomplishment that the counselor sees in you.

• Have a Plan B. Hopefully you applied to more than one school. Reset your expectations and be prepared to accept the invitation from college choice number two, three, or even lower.

Although some students may see Plan B as a failure, it is actually just as good an opportunity as Plan A. Students should remember that it is the effort they put into their college experience that truly makes it successful and positive. Instead of letting a deferral letter put you in limbo, take charge and move ahead. Your second or third or fourth college choice may prove to be everything you wanted. And besides, college choice number one can still be a possibility if you decide to attend graduate school in the future.

P. Carol Jones is the author of "Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able?" Learn more about preparing your teens for college success at http://www.towardcollegesuccess.com.

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