Deferred from Early Decision: Advice on Your Next Steps

Ah, the joys of college applications. You spent months researching, writing, and rewriting your essays, tracking down teachers for recommendations, and begging your parents for money to pay for application fees. And then, after all that effort, you find out you've been deferred from your Early Decision school.

First of all, don't panic. Being deferred isn't the end of the world. It simply means the admissions committee needs more time to review your application, and they want to see how you stack up against the rest of the applicant pool. While it's not an acceptance, it's not a rejection either. You still have a chance to be admitted in the regular decision round.

So, what should you do next? Here are some tips on how to handle being deferred from Early Decision:

1. Keep your head up.

It's natural to feel disappointed and frustrated when you receive a deferral notice. However, don't let it get you down. Remember that you are a strong candidate, and the admissions committee saw something special in your application. Keep your chin up, stay positive, and keep your eye on the prize.

One way to keep your head up is to focus on the positives. While being deferred may not be the outcome you were hoping for, it does mean that the admissions committee saw potential in your application and wants to review it again in the regular decision round. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your application and make any necessary improvements. You can also consider applying to other schools that align with your interests and qualifications.

Another way to keep your head up is to stay motivated and continue pursuing your goals. Don't let a deferral or any other setback discourage you from striving towards your dreams. Take advantage of the time you have before regular decision deadlines to further develop your skills, engage in extracurricular activities, or seek out new opportunities that align with your passions.

It is also important to remember that you are not alone. Many students have been in your position and have gone on to achieve great success. Seek support from family, friends, and counselors who can provide encouragement and guidance during this challenging time.

In summary, keeping your head up in the face of adversity is a mindset that requires optimism, resilience, and a willingness to learn and grow. It means acknowledging the setbacks, but not letting them define you or discourage you from pursuing your goals. Whether it's in the context of college admissions or any other aspect of life, keeping your head up can help you stay motivated and achieve success.

2. Consider your other options.

While you wait to hear back from your Early Decision school, start exploring other options. Research other colleges that interest you and consider applying to a few more schools. Remember that the regular decision deadline for most colleges is in January, so you still have time to submit applications.

If you have been deferred from early decision, it is essential to consider your other options. While it can be disappointing to receive a deferral, it is not the end of the road. You still have the opportunity to apply to other schools, and it is essential to keep an open mind and explore your options.

Start by reviewing the list of colleges you were considering before applying early decision. Evaluate each school's academic programs, location, campus culture, and extracurricular opportunities. Look at the admissions requirements and deadlines for each school, and consider if you would be a competitive applicant. 

Make a list of schools that interest you and do some research on each one. Reach out to the admissions office with any questions you have, and try to schedule a visit to the campus if possible. You can also speak to your high school guidance counselor for advice and recommendations.

It is important to keep in mind that just because you were deferred from your top choice school does not mean you will not be accepted at another school. Remember that every college has a different admissions process, and you may be a better fit for another school. Keep your options open and stay positive.

In addition to exploring other colleges, consider other application options. You can apply regular decision to other schools or consider early action programs at other colleges. Early action programs allow you to apply early, like early decision, but without the binding commitment. This means that if you are accepted, you can still consider other options before making a final decision.

It is also worth considering taking a gap year if you feel unsure about your college options or want to explore other opportunities before starting college. A gap year can be a great way to gain life experience, travel, and build skills before starting college.

Remember to keep an open mind and consider all of your options if you have been deferred from an early decision. Keep your head up and stay positive, as the college admissions process can be unpredictable, and you never know what opportunities may arise.

3. Stay in touch with your Early Decision school.

Even if you have been deferred from your Early Decision school, it is important to stay in touch with them. This shows that you are still interested in attending the school and may increase your chances of being accepted during the regular decision round.

One way to stay in touch is to email the admissions office thanking them for considering your application and expressing your continued interest in the school. You can also ask if there are any additional materials or updates you can provide to strengthen your application. However, be mindful of the school's policies on updates and follow their guidelines accordingly.

You may also consider visiting the campus if possible, attending information sessions, or speaking with current students or alumni. This can help you gain a better understanding of the school's values, culture, and community, and may even help you refine your application for the regular decision round.

Remember, it is important to maintain a positive and respectful attitude when communicating with the admissions office. Avoid being pushy or demanding, and instead show gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for admission. By staying in touch and demonstrating your continued interest, you may increase your chances of being accepted during the regular decision round.

4. Focus on your grades.

If you have been deferred from Early Decision, it is essential to stay focused on your academic performance. Your grades are an essential factor in your college application, and you want to demonstrate your continued commitment to academic excellence.

First and foremost, you need to maintain your current academic performance. It is crucial to continue performing well in your classes and maintain your grades. If you were deferred, it means that the college still considers you a strong candidate, so keeping up your grades can help reinforce this notion.

Additionally, you may want to consider taking additional challenging classes or pursuing academic interests outside of school. This can help show your dedication to your academic pursuits and demonstrate to the college that you are continuing to challenge yourself academically.

It's also essential to remember that colleges will receive your mid-year grades, so it's crucial to keep up your performance throughout the remainder of your high school career. If your grades slip, it could negatively impact your chances of admission.

Moreover, demonstrating improvement in your grades can also be advantageous. If there were any areas of weakness in your academic record, you can work to address them and demonstrate improvement in those areas. Colleges want to see that you are continually striving to better yourself and are willing to put in the effort to achieve your goals.

Ultimately, maintaining a strong academic record shows that you are serious about your education and committed to your goals. It can also help offset any doubts that the college may have had about your academic qualifications, making you a stronger candidate for admission. So, staying focused on your grades is a crucial aspect of your college application process.

5. Submit additional materials.

If you have been deferred from Early Decision, submitting additional materials can be an effective way to strengthen your application and demonstrate your continued interest in the school. Here are some materials you can consider submitting:

1. Updated grades: If you have received grades for a new semester or quarter, you can submit an updated transcript to show your academic progress.

2. Additional letters of recommendation: If you have been involved in a new activity or project since you applied, you can ask a teacher, coach, or mentor to write a letter of recommendation that highlights your achievements and potential.

3. Supplemental essays: Some schools allow deferred applicants to submit additional essays that explain their continued interest in the school, their academic or extracurricular achievements, or any other relevant information.

4. Art or writing samples: If you are applying to a school that values creativity, you can submit samples of your artwork, writing, or other creative projects that showcase your talent and potential.

5. Test scores: If you have taken any standardized tests since you applied, such as the SAT or ACT, you can submit your new scores to demonstrate your academic ability.

When submitting additional materials, it's important to follow the school's instructions and deadlines. You should also be strategic in what you choose to submit, focusing on materials that showcase your strengths and potential as a student. While there is no guarantee that submitting additional materials will lead to an acceptance, it can demonstrate your continued interest in the school and show that you are willing to put in the effort to improve your application.

6. Stay Positive:

Receiving a deferral from early decision can be disappointing and discouraging, but it's essential to stay positive and keep a good attitude. It's easy to fall into a negative mindset and believe that all hope is lost, but that's far from the truth. Remember that a deferral does not mean a rejection, and there's still a chance that you may be accepted later in the regular decision process.

To stay positive, try to focus on the things that you can control, such as your grades, test scores, and additional materials. Keep in mind that your application was strong enough to be deferred, so you've already made a positive impression on the admissions committee. 

Another way to stay positive is to talk to someone about how you're feeling. You can talk to your parents, friends, or school counselor to help you manage your emotions and see things in a more positive light. Sometimes just talking about your feelings can help you feel better and more optimistic about the future.

It's also essential to remember that college admissions are not a measure of your worth as a person. Getting into a specific college does not determine your intelligence, potential, or future success. It's just one aspect of your life, and there are plenty of other opportunities and paths available to you. Keep an open mind and stay optimistic about your future, regardless of the outcome of your college admissions process.

In conclusion, receiving a deferral from early decision can be discouraging, but it's essential to stay positive and keep a good attitude. Remember that a deferral does not mean a rejection, and there are still plenty of options and opportunities available to you. Keep focusing on the things that you can control, talk to someone about how you're feeling, and remember that college admissions do not define your worth as a person.


In conclusion, being deferred from early decision can be a challenging experience, but it is important to stay positive and take the necessary steps to improve your chances of acceptance in the regular decision round. Considering other options, staying in touch with your early decision school, focusing on your grades, submitting additional materials, and staying positive are all important strategies to consider. Ultimately, remember that being deferred does not mean rejection, and you still have a chance to demonstrate your interest and qualifications to the admissions committee. Keep your head up, stay motivated, and continue working towards your goals. Good luck!