Deferrals from US Colleges: What Can You Do?

Early reports are showing an increase in the number of applications submitted for U.S. colleges’ Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) deadlines. As a result, we’ll see an increase in the number of students who are deferred. We know that it takes a lot of work to get an application ready for an early deadline, and it’s natural to feel disappointed. But if you’re deferred and remain really interested in the school, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of an offer in the Regular Decision (RD) pool. 

1. Deferral Policies

Start by checking the school’s deferral policy. Some explicitly say that they do not accept any additional material. If that’s the case for the school you applied to, it’s best to respect their policy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to connect with the admissions representative who is in charge of your region. (Check the school’s website If you don’t already know who that person is.) You can send a brief message to the regional representative, letting them know you are still committed to the school. Also, even schools that don’t want to receive additional material will want a midyear report from your school in February, so make sure your grades stay strong.

2. Deferral Letters

If the school you applied to is open to accepting additional material, you can send them a “deferral letter”. Is the school still your first choice? Tell them! You may have reasons why you are a great fit for the school that didn’t fit on your application. Add these to the letter. If you’ve had some academic wins since sending in your application, describe them. You can share improved grades and information about successful projects, essays, or presentations. You can send an up-to-date resume with your letter too. (If you sent one with your application, only do this if you have something new to add.)

3. Documentation

Next, make sure the school actually received all of your application documents. Most colleges are test optional this year, but if you indicated on your application that you intended to send SAT or ACT scores, check to see if they were received. English language proficiency tests are still required for some applicants; if they were required of you, check to see if the school actually received them. 

4. Letters of Recommendation

Finally, you can request an additional letter of recommendation. The letter can be from one of your current teachers or from someone in the community, such as a coach, volunteer coordinator, or employer.