Was Your Kid Deferred? 6 Ways to Strengthen an Application NOW

Deferred feels awful. You wanted your child to be done with this, and now the process will drag on through to the spring. I implore you not to feel helpless. Think of getting deferred as an invitation to send Admissions the info they have not asked your child for. I call this the “Follow Up Communication.”   This info, described below, demonstrates your child’s commitment to the school and why they should be reconsidered.

How deferred admissions candidates can strengthen their applications.

Most students are too exhausted and overwhelmed by schoolwork and upcoming application deadlines to even consider putting any additional effort toward a school that’s expressed, at best, luke warm interest in them. Totally understandable. It is for this reason that, if your child can marshal the energy to write a follow-up, they might truly distinguish themselves. Most recently, my clients have turned waitlist status at UVA and UCLA into offers of admission.

Six Ways Deferred Candidates Can Distinguish Themselves with Admissions Departments

Here’s the best news: A follow-up letter is not that hard to write, and parents can help, because more effort goes into gathering info than the actually writing. First step is to have your student check in with their high school counselor to get their input on writing a letter. Then, here’s what to include:

1. Why is Perfect University the ideal school for you? What specific programs, specialties, facilities or majors do you love?

2. If you visited, mention what you loved about the campus and the people there. If you sat in on a class and/or stayed overnight tell them how important that experience was in choosing Perfect U.

3. Tell them what you will contribute to the Perfect U community? Are you a great organizer, fundraiser, or researcher? Are you looking forward to tutoring fellow students in math or singing with the a capella group?   Offering something of value to their community may compensate for underwhelming grades or test scores.

4. Update the info they have on you. Have you received an award or a fabulous grade since you sent in your application? Have you performed in a school production this fall or scored an athletic accomplishment? Let them know. You can also reflect on your commitment to studying a particular subject.

5. Let them know that you know what’s happening at Perfect U. Congratulate them on their terrific volleyball season or the new science center. Find out what guest speakers were on campus this fall tell them why you would have loved to attend those lectures. You can find out this info by googling the school or visiting the News page on their website.

6. Thank them at the beginning of your letter, and at the end, for continuing to consider your application.

Send your follow-up to your rep and to the Dean of Admissions. Each should get the letter via email and US mail. (For US mail, follow the format for a standard business letter).

Yes, you can have additional recommenders send letters, but first, make your case on your own.


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karen schwarzKaren Schwarz coaches students on their admissions essays in private practice and as a volunteer. Last year she was given the “You Make a Difference” award by Alexandria City Public Schools. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and on NPR’s thisIbelieve.org and public radio WAMU. She is the author of What You Can Do For Your Country: An Oral History of the Peace Corps (Morrow/1993). Her website is essaymom.net and the class of ’17 marks her eighth admissions cycle.

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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