You have spent months preparing your college applications– taking tests, writing essays and seeking recommendations. By applying early, you hoped to receive a letter of admission in December. Sometimes this effort is rewarded by early admittance to a top choice school. Unfortunately, even for many of the most talented students, a deferred or waitlisted letter will arrive.
I recently spoke with a Director of Admissions of an Ivy League university who noted that wait-list/deferral decisions happen for a variety of reasons. In the purest form they indicate that an institution wants a student but needs more information on the rest of the applicant pool. But they also:
· Allow colleges to manage the size of the freshman class
· Help colleges maintain valuable alumni relationships
· Salute a high school-college relationship
· Showcase a students second semester senior year grades
It is possible to improve one's chances of admission after being deferred or wait-listed. Here are just a few helpful suggestions:
• If you have not interviewed, check with the college to see if you can do so...preferably on campus. Make sure you practice your interview skills with a seasoned interviewer until you are confident that your skills are strong.
• Visit the campus...again.
• Attend an information session, often given by a member of the admissions committee. Ask questions such as, "What percent of students are typically admitted after being deferred (or wait-listed)?" and "Is there anything I can do that might increase my chances of gaining admission?" Not only will this earmark you as a deferred/wait-listed candidate, but the information session speaker may note your visit and strong school interest in your application file. When your application is reevaluated that interest will shine through. This is particularly important because schools are more inclined to extend offers to students they believe will accept an admission offer.
• Without becoming a nuisance, keep the admissions committee abreast of any new accomplishments on a regular basis.
• Have AdmissionsCheckup.com, a network of former admissions officers, evaluate your application. They will review and provide specific feedback that will improve your application, and possibly, your chances of acceptance. AdmissionsCheckup.com will give you a fresh perspective on why you were deferred/wait-listed. Perhaps, unknowingly, you gave the wrong impression or neglected to include something important. Not only will you hopefully be able to "fix it" by sending the school some clarification, but you may also be able to head off a similar miscommunication at other schools.
While being deferred or wait-listed is far from ideal, it can, if properly managed, lead to an acceptance.
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Stephanie Klein Wassink is the founder of Wilton-based Winning Applications and AdmissionsCheckup.com. For more information, call 203-938-3878 or visit www.winningapplication.com and www.admissionscheckup.com.