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Getting deferred: How to handle college admissions limbo

Posted by Leslie Anderson  December 30, 2013 04:51 PM

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Well, itís finally here. The moment every college applicant has awaited for what seems like years, but has really only been a few weeks. Itís the day that decision letter finally arrives.

Whether itís received through an online portal or hand delivered by your mailman, receiving that first college letter will certainly cause any high school seniorís heart rate to accelerate and their stomach to start doing cartwheels.

Opening that first letter starts a surge of excitement, anticipation, and nerves. Each of these feelings is bundled together into one package of emotions that is ripped open along with the letterís envelope. Reading a decision letter from college can lead to one of three emotions: pure bliss, utter despair, or heightened impatience.

That surge of impatience and frustration is exactly how I felt upon opening my first college letter. Getting deferred from a school, as I did, is undoubtedly one of the most unsettling and confusing situations any college applicant can be put in.

Itís natural to feel excitement and pride with an acceptance letter, and disappointment with any letter of rejection.

But, how are you supposed to feel with a letter of deferral?

Getting deferred is like sitting on a fence. You havenít quite fallen onto the soft cushiony grass of acceptance, but you also havenít quite smashed onto the less comfortable, rock-hard pavement of rejection either.

One of the easiest emotions to immediately express is frustration, while fading hope tends to accompany that frustration. As difficult as it may seem, maintaining hope for as long as possible is one of the best things any deferred applicants can do for themselves.

Sure itís not an immediate admittance, but that doesnít completely diminish all possibilities of getting into the school. If anything, chances are greater among those in the regular decision pool, as colleges do prefer to see earlier interest on an application.

To anyone who has been deferred: remember itís important to maintain a strong, positive outlook on the situation. Colleges see a strong potential in you, and thereís a defined reason why your letter didnít start with ďwe regret to inform youĒ.

Do your best to spend the next few months proving yourself to that school, showing them that you would make a great fit for their freshman class. College decisions have absolutely no reflection on the value of you as a human being. Really, deferral is just a test of patience, and as they say, good things come to those who wait.

Good luck!

Bridget Brown is a senior at Wellesley High School. She can be reached at

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