Advice Column: Dealing with Deferrals and Rejections


Aaron Triffleman-Miller, Staff Writer

You are sitting at your kitchen table, lap-top screen beaming, and your family huddled behind you anxiously waiting.  Your heart is racing, you feel like you will faint as you open up the admissions update letter from your top choice.  As the screen changes on your computer, the first words you read are “We regret,” and you know that your dream of going to that college is over.  Your family reads it seconds later and immediately squeezes your shoulder or hugs you in comfort.  You do not know why you were rejected, whether it was your GPA or teacher recommendations that just did not make the cut; perhaps you did not make that one final edit to your supplements or they thought your Common App resume was lacking.  All these thoughts race through your mind as you are saddened by trying to comprehend the results. 

It is, to say the least, disappointing to be deferred or rejected from the college you were excited about, however decisions are not as personal as they may seem.  College decisions are based on numerous uncontrollable factors from geographic location, to identity, to certain programs being harder from one year to the next, etc..  Coming to terms with the randomness of the process can be difficult, and it is scary to realize how little control an applicant may have over their decision, but remember that all of your peers are experiencing similar struggles.  

Upsetting news is an unfortunate part of the college process and one that you are likely to encounter in the future.  From higher-level schooling to job applications, it is a crucial skill to know how to reset following a rejection and stay proactive in the event of such misfortune. 

“If you are dealing with a deferral, don’t lose sight of what you wanted and why you wanted to go there in the first place,” said senior Alex Parker. 

When dealing with deferrals, remember you still have the opportunity to be selected in the regular decision application pool.  It is important to continue to demonstrate interest if you still want to go to that school; this can vary from attending zoom sessions to talking with your local admission counselor or dean, to writing a letter of continued interest.  This added effort can increase your chances of getting accepted into the school at a later date.  You may know how much you love that school, but they might not.  

“Keep the letter short and sweet.  Hype yourself up and explain why you are good for that college,” said senior Marissa Cichon. 

Advocate for yourself and do not pretend to be humble.  Writing a letter and taking charge in reaching out to colleges that have deferred you can help you to be successful in meeting your goal of acceptance.  Be forceful and show colleges that you want to be there.  The most effective way of dealing with rejection or deferment is having a back-up plan., which may involve  understanding the possibility of attending other schools that you like.

“When I got deferred, I was upset, but it encouraged me to look out for other schools and opportunities and not put all my eggs in one basket,” said Cichon. 

Research, explore, and visit other schools.  You may be surprised about schools you did not care for before or you may realize other schools have other opportunities, classes, and experiences that you are looking for and want.  There is more than one school out there for you, and it is on you to do the research and put in the time to find  the list of schools that are right for you. 

It may sound cliche, but no matter whether you get rejected or deferred, you will end up at the college that is right for you.  Everything will work out in the end, you just need to put in a little time and effort to find another “perfect” fit.  You will be surprised how many possibilities you can make out of an unfortunate situation.