Got Denied or Deferred? Your Next Steps to College Acceptance Revealed

Applying early to your top-choice school is more complicated than applying via the regular decision round.

You have to beat an earlier deadline, determine whether or not the admission plan is binding, or whether or not you can also apply early to other institutions on your college list.

Something that adds to its complexity is that the college can accept, defer, or deny you.

There’s nothing else to do if you get an acceptance letter but to be happy and focus on ending your senior year of high school with a bang to avoid the risk of rescinding your offer to enroll.

However, it’s a different matter if you get a deferral or denial.

So, can you call a college after it defers or denies you?

Getting in touch with the institution is perfectly OK after being deferred or denied admission, although it’s best to email the admissions office instead of giving it a phone call.

What your email says can also vary, depending on whether you want to extend your intent to attend or appeal the decision.

Just what is the difference between deferred and rejected, and what actions can you take for each?

Application denied

Deferred vs. Denied: Know the Key Differences

A deferral means your application ends up in the regular decision pile.

College admissions officers will look at it all over again when it’s time for them to review RD applications, which can then result in any of the following outcomes:

  • Admission
  • Waitlisting
  • Denial

On the other hand, a denial means the institution rejected your application.

College admissions officers will never look at it another time, unlike in the case of a deferral.

Does Deferred Mean Rejected?

While deferred means a rejection of your college application during the early decision or early action round, it doesn’t mean a rejection for the particular admissions cycle.

The main difference between deferred and rejected is the number of considerations an application gets:

  • College admissions officers review a deferred application another time
  • College admissions officers review a denied or rejected application no more

Is Deferred Better Than Rejected?

Getting deferred is definitely better than getting rejected or denied.

A deferral means you have another chance to get into the college — your application will get another evaluation after college admissions officers are through reviewing ED and EA applications.

Meanwhile, a rejection means you can pursue a bachelor’s degree at another school.

Of course, nothing is better than getting accepted during the early round.

However, between getting deferred and getting denied, the former is the lesser of evils because there is a possibility the college admissions officers might find your application a standout compared to other RD applications.

What are My Chances of Getting in After Being Deferred?

The consensus is that deferred college applicants have a 5% to 10% chance of getting in.

Some college admissions experts estimate that the acceptance rate for deferred applicants is pretty much the same as the regular decision pool acceptance rate.

On the other hand, you have zero chances of getting into the college once it rejects your application.

But let me clarify further.

While a rejection or denial means the college does not want to admit you, it doesn’t want to admit you for that particular admissions cycle — it might admit you when you apply for the next admissions cycle.

Or reject you again if your college application shows no improvement.

woman is calling college

What to Do After Getting Deferred or Denied

A deferral can leave any college applicant with high hopes feeling down, upset, and shaken.

However, it’s not as disconcerting as a downright denial or rejection.

By now, we have established that getting deferred is not the same as getting denied — there’s still the regular decision round during which your application might make a better impression on college admissions officers.

Instead of bawling your eyes out and eating a tub of ice cream, consider the following:

Email the Admissions Office

As mentioned, it’s completely OK to contact the college or university after getting a deferral or denial.

I cannot stress enough the importance of getting in touch with admissions officers via email instead of a phone call because they have tons of applications, essays, and recommendation letters to read.

Sending them an email is a less intrusive way to communicate with them.

If deferred:

  • Find out what admissions officers want from you. Do they want to see a higher SAT or ACT score? Do they want a letter of recommendation that provides more insight on you? Do they want additional materials?
  • Compose a LOCI. A letter of continued interest is what LOCI stands for, and you should send one to the college stating you are still interested in attending and providing updates on your recent achievements.

If denied:

  • Appeal the rejection. Using around four paragraphs, politely explain why your college application is worthy of reconsideration. Some students claim to be accepted to Florida State University after writing an appeal letter.
  • Express interest in future opportunities. Express your regret that you did not get in, but also show gratitude for the opportunity to apply. If you are thinking about reapplying during another admissions cycle, state your plan.

Improve Your College Application

Deferred ED or EA applicants usually have several weeks to gear up for the RD round.

It means you have time to submit additional documents or improve your application to increase your chances of receiving an acceptance letter after your application gets a second evaluation.

Start by studying harder to increase your high school grades and boost your cumulative GPA.

Retake the SAT or ACT if your time or budget permits, and ensure that you get a higher score this time, which you should consider submitting if the college is a test-optional school.

Participate in extracurricular activities with more passion and purpose, especially those that align with your intended program or major, and help build leadership skills.

Get your hands on recommendation letters from teachers who know you the best.

Does the college consider demonstrated interest in the admissions process?

Visit the campus if you haven’t already. Remember to open and read emails from the institution, attend information sessions and webinars, and follow the school on social media and interact with its posts.

woman is calling college

Should I Reapply After Getting Deferred?

Reapplying after a deferral is unnecessary since your college application automatically ends up in the regular decision pile to undergo assessment once more, giving you another fighting chance at getting accepted.

It all goes back to deferred vs. rejected.

Besides, you can apply to the same college only once per admissions cycle.

Can I Reapply to Another College After a Deferral?

You can apply to a different college or university after getting a deferral from your top-choice school even if you intend to attend it should you receive an acceptance letter during the RD round.

A deferral cancels any binding agreement that comes with applying via early decision.

So, in other words, you are not obligated to enroll in the college in case it accepts you during the regular decision round — it’s up to you to decide whether you will attend it or another institution.

Should I Reapply After Getting Denied?

You cannot apply to the same college that denies you during an early application round.

Either you apply to a different school via RD round or apply to the same school the following admissions cycle.

In case the college gives you an offer to enroll after appealing your denial, there is no need to reapply — you just have to put down an enrollment deposit to secure your spot.

Read Next: Best ED2 Colleges if You Were Rejected or Deferred Early

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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