Wow, when I say a ton of kids were deferred this year, I mean A. Ton. Of. Kids. Were. Deferred. This. Year. So, maybe it helps to know that you’re not alone?
Now, what do you do with that deferral? For starters, it’s important to focus on your regular decisions schools right now. Be prepared to mentally move on from the school where you are deferred. There are lots of amazing schools where you can find and be your awesome self. Remember you have you wherever you are.
However if you are, indeed, still interested — and the school doesn’t specifically ask you not to, start thinking about your letter of continued interest (LOCI). Some amazing advice from u/ScholarGrade on the subreddit r/ApplyingToCollege: “it’s hard to take the time and energy to actually send something. So many students don’t bother because they see the stats on how few students get in off waitlists and just give up. Don’t let this be you. I also once heard a Cornell AO say that they don’t really bother looking at deferred applications where no update was received because they figure that if you really want to go there, you’ll send something. TL;DR – Send something. Actually do it. You have nothing to lose and it could change your life.”
And, If you’re still reeling, or even grieving, from the effects of the excitement of December Decisions mutating to becoming December Deferred, you’re not alone. And while you can’t force yourself to feel happy, you can do something fun — dance, sing, eat ice cream, wear funny clothes. That def does not mean to push bad feelings away. It just means to give those feelings a break. I recently wrote a couple of posts about how to deal with admissions stress : You are a BadAss Applicant even if December Decisions didn’t go your way: A Metaphor about Trees (and Dream Schools). And Emotional Planning. I know y’all rock when it comes to support, but if you find yourself struggling, you might find something that speaks to you in those posts. And you can always reach out to me too. Here’s a great blog from Rick Clark, Director of Admissions from Georgia Tech; it’s about dealing with the stress of admissions and life, not specifically about how to write a LOCI, but some of you might find it helpful. Aside from the fact that he mentions Reddit (I’m sure he must mean A2C ;)), he always has amazing wisdom to share.
I’m also gonna share this recent blog from the Director of Admissions at Tulane about what to do if deferred. And, here are some guidelines from me you might find helpful:
- Read the Instructions from the School: Use the method the college asks you to use in their letter. Some have a specific form. Some want you to upload to a certain place. Some have certain deadlines. Some say not to send anything at all. Read your letter carefully and check their blogs and your portal to make sure they haven’t explained anything further.
- If they don’t say not to send something, Send Something: If they don’t mention your sending them updates or a letter to confirm interest in a certain format or say they don’t want anything at all, send an email LOCI to your AO for your area or the dean of admissions if the college doesn’t have specific AOs for your area. Copy the general admissions office and the person whose name is on your letter.
- Keep it short and sweet. Do not take up too much of their time. I’d keep it within two pages double spaced (250 – 500 words). Make your points concisely and clearly. This is a little more business-like than your personal statement. While you need to show your voice, be yourself, and be friendly and warm, it’s a bit more formal. Be polite, but friendly.
- Tell them they remain your first choice if they truly are. If you will attend if you get accepted, let them know this — if it’s true.
- Express your continued interest. Let them know that you are happy to be part of the regular decision pool now, and why it is such a good fit for you. Think of this part as a mini Why College Essay/love letter, and let them know what you can bring to their school specifically. It’s your job to paint a picture of yourself on their campus.
- Share any important updates to your application if you have them. Examples of applicable updates are improved test scores or grades, a visit to the college, or a major award or honor — or some personal goal you’ve accomplished this semester from a hobby or interest can also work.
- Thank them again and show your appreciation.
- Extenuating Circumstances: If you have or had any extenuating circumstances that could help them evaluate your application that you didn’t address already, you could include it briefly in this or you could send an email or submit it to the portal explaining your situation. Sometimes you don’t feel right in your application explaining hardships, but it’s the kind of information they need to know to understand the context of your application.
- Additional Letters of Recommendation: Some colleges will accept additional letters of recommendation if they explore a different area of who you are. Again, read their materials carefully.
- Send it in January: Unless they give an earlier deadline, I suggest sending in January, a couple weeks after they are back in session. No need to send it much sooner. Your regular decision apps come first. If they have a quick form to fill to acknowledge your interest, go ahead and fill that out and send it though.
- Send an update to your interviewer: Thank them for their time and just tell them you’re updating to let them know. Don’t expect or ask them to do anything, but maybe they’ll have some insight to share or advice.
- Don’t send a letter if they ask you not to in your deferral letter.
- Don’t send it before you’ve completed your regular decision apps. Unless, otherwise, January after they are back in their offices working is fine.
- Don’t express anger or frustration. It’s ok to share disappointment briefly, but don’t be whiny or pouty.
- Don’t make any assumptions about your acceptance.
- Don’t make your letter too long.
- Don’t send regular updates. One or two updates is enough.
- Don’t ask the college for feedback on your application.
PS — I have recently heard the advice from a high school counselor to send a snail-mail handwritten LOCI addresses to your admissions officer. I haven’t heard from anyone on the college side, but I figured I’d share the advice here. If you decide to do that, I recommend that the handwritten letter be the thank you and continued interest part. Then send an email or upload to the portal with a letter that thanks them, notes your continued interest, and includes updates.
Tl;dr: 1. Send something unless the college specifically tells you not to. 2. Follow their directions. 3. Like everything else in college admissions, there is no magic formula. All you can do is get advice and then decide what makes most sense for you. Others might have different advice than mine. That’s totally ok. You read it all and learn and then figure out what works best for you.