A Sample Response to a College Deferral Letter

A Well-Crafted Letter Can Improve Your College Admission Chances

Student Typing
Student Typing. Nicole Abalde / Flickr

If you applied to college early decision or early action and then received a deferral letter, don't panic. First, read through these 7 tips on what to do if deferred. Then, if you think you have meaningful new information to share with the college that has deferred your admission, write them a letter.

The sample letter below is from a student who applied early but then received higher test scores and acquired a new leadership position at her school.

Note the tone of the letter. Laura is polite and appreciative. She comes across as considerate, not entitled. She is clearly disappointed, but the letter doesn't express anger or wallow in self-pity. The letter is also short and to the point.

Laura's Letter to the Admissions Office:

Dear Mr. Birney,

Last week I learned that my application for early decision at Johns Hopkins was deferred. As you can imagine, this news was disappointing to me -- Johns Hopkins remains the university I'm most excited about attending. I visited a lot of schools during my college search, and Johns Hopkins's program in International Studies appeared to be a perfect match for my interests and aspirations, and I loved the energy of the Homewood Campus.

I want to thank you and your colleagues for the time you put into considering my application. After I applied for early decision, I received a couple more pieces of information that I hope will strengthen my application. First, I retook the SAT in November and my combined score went from 1330 to 1470. The College Board will be sending you an official score report soon. Also, I was recently elected to be the Captain of our school Ski Team, a group of 28 students who compete in regional competitions. As Captain, I will have a central role in the team's scheduling, publicity and fund raising. I have asked the team's coach to send you a supplemental letter of recommendation that will address my role within the Ski Team.

Many thanks for your consideration,

Laura Anystudent

Discussion of Laura's Letter:

While it never hurts to write a letter reaffirming your interest in a school (unless the school explicitly says not to do so), Laura has good reason to write. The 110 point improvement on her SAT scores is significant. If you look at this graph of GPA-SAT-ACT data for admission to Hopkins, you'll see that Laura's original 1330 was on the lower end of the accepted student range, while the 1470 is nicely in the middle of the range.

Laura's election as Captain of Ski Team may not be a game-changer on the admissions front, but it does show more evidence of her leadership skills. Especially if her application was originally light on leadership experiences, this new position will be significant. Finally, Laura's decision to have a supplemental letter of recommendation sent to Hopkins is a good choice, especially if her coach can speak to abilities that Laura's other recommenders did not.

Being deferred is obviously frustrating for applicants, but many students are admitted during the regular admissions cycle. If the school didn't think you were qualified to get in, they would have rejected you, not deferred your admission. Laura's letter will certainly strengthen her application when she is considered with the regular admissions pool, and the fact that she had applied early decision will be a positive since it helps demonstrate her sincere interest in the university.

More About Letters of Continued Interest:

A letter such as Laura's is often called a "letter of continued interest. In other words, Laura has received news that she has not yet been admitted, so she is writing to the university to let the admissions folks know that she is still extremely interested in attending.

The letter needs to accomplish just a few things:

  • Express your unwavering desire to attend the school.
  • Present any new information you may have received since first applying.
  • Show that you are polite, gracious, and articulate.

To get more detailed information about writing letters after having your admission decision deferred, these articles can help guide you: