Early applicants to colleges and universities can receive one of three different decisions: accepted, denied, or deferred to the regular pool.

Everyone knows it’s good to be accepted and disappointing to be denied. But what does a deferral mean? And how should you handle it?

Different schools use deferrals differently.

At MIT, deferrals are fairly common, whereas Stanford, on the other hand, issues very few deferrals, preferring to make final admissions decisions in the Early Action round.

To understand what an Early Action or Early Decision deferral means in your case, it’s helpful to understand how the school you applied to uses them. At a school like MIT, it could suggest that you are one of many strong applicants who applied under the early deadline. At a school like Stanford, it implies a more mixed picture. The admissions committee must have seen things it liked in your file, since it didn’t deny you admission – but obviously it didn’t see enough to persuade it to go ahead and offer you admission.

Any early applicant who is deferred should be sure that their midyear grade report is sent to their targeted school. Your first-semester grades may be the thing that convinces the admissions committee that you merit an admissions offer.

In some cases, it may be helpful to submit additional supplemental material as well. Good judgment has to be exercised in doing so, however. It won’t do you any good to simply send ‘more of the same.’

To the contrary, you need to understand what aspect of your file may be raising doubts about your desirability as a student and submit supplemental material that addresses that issue. This is the kind of decision that our admissions consultants help applicants and their parents understand and act on.

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