Deferred from Early Decision: Advice on Your Next Steps

Padya Paramita

Deferred from Early Decision: Advice on Your Next Steps

If you’ve recently learned that you’ve been deferred from early decision or restrictive early action at your dream school, you might not be thrilled. After all, you worked very hard to put together a polished application. Worry not however, because deferral still means that you are a qualified candidate for the college. In order to continue showing the admissions office that the college is your top choice we have elaborated on the meaning of college deferral as well as how to craft the perfect letter of continued interest. 

What Does It Mean to Be Deferred?

If you’ve been deferred from early decision at your top choice college, it means that the school will reconsider your application profile in the regular decision round. So, don’t lose hope! You’ve still got a shot. Make sure to craft a strong letter of continued interest emphasizing that the university is still your number one, as well as reiterating any recent accomplishments and grades that have been released since you submitted your Common Application profile in November. In the meantime, you could also consider an early decision II school if there is another college that you have had your eye on that you can see yourself committing too.

Meanwhile, once the early decision acceptance rates come out, revisit your regular decision school list to decide whether there’s any college that might be tough given your current profile. Most importantly, don’t take acceptance at the school where you’ve been deferred from early decision for granted—while a small portion of deferred students do get admitted every year, the reality is that most are rejected in the RD round. So, keep applying to regular decision schools and make sure you’ve kept a good balance of reach, target, and safety options. 

Next Steps: The Letter of Continued Interest

It’s very important to continue demonstrating interest in the college if you’ve been deferred from early decision. While you can send an additional letter of recommendation and updated grades and extracurricular achievements, the most important component after deferral is the letter of continued interest. Remind the admissions officers why their institution is a top choice for you,. Admissions officers take statements like “I will attend if accepted” very seriously when deciding who to admit from the RD pool. In your letter, talk about what you could bring and how you would be a good fit. But don’t bombard the admissions office with phone calls! Let’s take a closer look at this letter.

Letter of continued interest template:

Dear [School Name] Admissions Officer,

My name is [Student], and I was recently deferred as an Early Decision applicant. I am sending this letter to express my enthusiasm for [School Name] and update you on my recent activities.

Express love for the school for example: From the [name landmark] statue to the [name landmark/campus highlight], I loved X University the moment I laid eyes on the campus. During my recent visit to campus, I imagined taking X Course and conducting research on [your area of interest] under Professor Y, as well as learning from friends from diverse backgrounds through student organizations such as XYZ club.


Senior Year Grades and Curriculum: [have your grades been steadily improving? Was there a particular subject you were struggling with that you’re doing better in now?] For example:

I have continued to maintain straight “A’s” in all subjects. My current GPA is 4.425.

As part of the mentorship program at X Company, I have completed the senior research in one semester—normally taken in two semesters. For my mentorship, I stayed in school for 2 days a week and for the other 3 days attended X Institute for research.

Due to this schedule, it was impossible for me to take higher-level classes such as AP Physics (a yearly course). I have now taken all Biology courses that my school has to offer.

Add any new standardized test scores to report

Research/independent projects, for example:

  • I have made progress in my cancer research at X University. I am now working with my mentor to write a paper on the results.
  • We have found a promising lead to cure the X neurodegenerative disease. More specifically, I have been exploring… (add specific examples of your work)
  • Any evolution of your interest in a particular subject (something new you’ve read or tried, something new you’ve interacted with)

Volunteering, clubs, leadership, and other activities with tangible and measurable results you can share: EMT Volunteer Work [note that you can include other materials to demonstrate your achievements, and also mention how you’d like to contribute to activities and community at the college], for example:

  • I am currently volunteering at the local Fire Department for 30 hours a month. I recently turned 18 and received my national EMT certification, which I included with this letter for your reference.
  • I am currently learning how to drive an ambulance and expect to be certified to drive within the next month.

[Add any certifications and awards you have received in this particular activity]

How you’ll contribute to the school: I look forward to adding value to the [Name of School] community through research, volunteering with MERT, promoting STEM by extending my Funbotics non-profit robotics camp, making friends, and cheering on the people around me.

Mention any contacts with alums, coaches, Admissions Officers etc. at the school

Conclusion and expression of commitment (make sure they know this is still your first choice): Your university remains my top-choice school, and if admitted to X University’s class of 2027, I would absolutely commit to attending! Thank you for your continued consideration of my application.

Sign-off: GO [Insert School Mascot]! Sincerely,


Common App ID [Number]

[Name of High School], Class of 2023

Note what is NOT in this letter:

  • There is not too much elaboration. Keep it concise and neatly organized, with bullet points and a clear purpose in each section.
  • There is no discussion of admissions.
  • The tone is positive, not negative. It’s about highlighting achievements and expressing enthusiasm, not disappointment or inquiry about the school’s decision to defer or waitlist you.

Being deferred from early decision can be disheartening but it’s not the end of the world. Look on the bright side: the admissions office made a decision that you were clearly competitive enough to make the cut. They almost certainly do not have any doubts about your ability to succeed academically as a student. Keep your head up, apply to RD schools—including safeties—and send that letter of continued interest by end of January. Good luck!

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