Being waitlisted or deferred from your dream college can be a disheartening experience for any high school student. After putting in so much effort and hard work, it can feel like a letdown to be left hanging in uncertainty. But this doesn't have to be the end of the road for you. In fact, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of being accepted if you are willing to prolong the process with a few more weeks of uncertainty or feel as if you will regret it later if you don't take further action.
First and foremost, it's essential to understand the difference between being waitlisted and deferred. Being waitlisted means that the college has decided to postpone your application decision until they have reviewed all of the applications. Being deferred means that the college has decided to postpone your application decision to a later round of review, usually after they have received more applications.
If you're waitlisted or deferred, you should take the following steps:
Understand why you were waitlisted or deferred: It's essential to know why you were waitlisted or deferred. Was it because of your grades, test scores, or something else? Knowing the reason for your waitlist or deferment can help you address any concerns the admissions committee might have.
Show continued interest: A letter of continued interest (LOCI) is an excellent way to show the admissions committee that you are still interested in attending their college. A well-crafted LOCI should express your continued interest in the school and why it's your top choice. Make sure to provide any new information that can help the committee reconsider your application. Keep it under one page.
Update your application: If you've received any new awards, taken new courses, or participated in any extracurricular activities since submitting your application, be sure to inform the admissions committee. Updating your application can demonstrate your commitment to the college and your growth since submitting your initial application.
Be patient: Remember that the waitlist and deferment processes can take time, and there is no guarantee that you will be accepted. Avoid bombarding the admissions committee with constant inquiries or updates.
When writing a letter of continued interest (LOCI), there are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind:
Follow the directions given by the college for what they want you to do next. If they say we don't want further contact, don't. If they say use our portal to upload any new documentation, do so. If it's unclear, email admissions and ask.
Express your enthusiasm for the college and your appreciation for their consideration.
State why the college remains your top choice and how it aligns with your personal and academic goals.
Update the admissions committee with any new information that can strengthen your application.
Keep your LOCI concise, clear, and professional.
Beg for acceptance or sound desperate in any way.
Badger the admissions committee with constant inquiries or updates.
Disparage other colleges or make negative comments about the waitlist or deferment process.
Be repetitive or include information already mentioned in your initial application.
I recommend looking at sample letters for ideas. If you Google them, be sure they come from a reputable source such as College Essay Guy or College Vine.
Being waitlisted or deferred is not the end of your college journey. With the right approach, you can increase your chances of being accepted. But be realistic. Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy have put together this Google spreadsheet that lists waitlist data for 2017-2019 for a number of schools. Notice that some schools will admit large numbers of waitlisted students one year, and few the next. Always have a plan B. Good luck!