Deferred from Your Dream College? Write a Letter of Continued Interest!


Anyone who has submitted an Early Decision/Action application knows the anxiety and ballooning hopes that go into waiting to hear back from a dream college. And when you do receive that cherished news, there’s only really one result that is satisfying: certainty, a resounding YES or NO.

Then there’s the deferment letter, which essentially means that you are good, but not good enough, and now you’ll be competing against the whole Regular Decision pack. You think, “But if I wasn’t good enough then, then why would I be good enough now?”

Well, things change. Students get stronger, better, and more accomplished. And the Early Decision/Action cohort of applicants are all the A-listers, so they are the fiercest competition that you have to face. The Regular Decision crew? Well, they’re a hard lot to beat, but you have one thing over them: you know where you stand with the college.

One of the ways to tilt your deferment into an acceptance is to send what’s called a letter of continued interest. The purpose of this letter is to show absolute interest in the college, update the admissions committee on anything amazing (or pretty cool) that you’ve done since applying, and generally keep on reminding the college that you want to attend and, if accepted, would be registering for classes as soon as they’d let you.

Now, before going into the nitty gritty of what you should or shouldn’t include in the letter, just remember that while this letter helps, it is not the golden ticket that gets you into your dream school. As with anything involving college admissions, the letter of continued interest is another piece to a rather complex puzzle.

In your letter of continued interest, this is what you SHOULD say:

1. Address your letter to an actual person--such as the regional admissions officer, or the person who sent you the deferment letter. You are writing this letter to a human, after all, so show them that you know who they are.

2. Make crystal clear that this college is your #1 choice. Colleges want high yield numbers--they want to not only accept brilliant students but also get these students to enroll--so tell your dream school that if you were accepted, you’d give them a YASS. (Maybe don’t literally say “YAS.”)

3. Remind them of why you like them so much, and if possible, highlight things about the college that you haven’t already talked about in your application. This may be hard, so if you are not sure what to say, go for adding depth to something that you mentioned previously.

4. Highlight accomplishments, growth, and general awesomeness that you’ve done since applying. Did you get a better SAT score? Did you win 1st in State? Did you rescue someone from the Texas ice-pocalypse? Adding these updates to your letter may be what turns weak parts of your original application into strengths; in other words, they can make you a more serious contender. So show the admissions committee that you are continuing to rise like a firework (and soon your colors are gonna burst).

5. Thank the college admissions committee for their hard work. Be nice. Be grateful. You know the drill.

This is what you SHOULDN’T say:

1. Show any kind of negativity. This should be obvious, but sometimes we don’t even know when we are sounding negative, so definitely let a trusted reader make sure you are not giving the wrong impression.

2. Plead for a spot at the college. Let the letter speak for itself!

3. Assume that you are going to get accepted and that your deferment was simply a mistake on the committee’s part.

Also, here are some other things to keep in mind:

1. Does the college want you to send a letter of continued interest? Not all of them do, and they may specifically tell you NOT to send one. So be sure you understand the guidelines.

2. Keep your letter short and sweet. Don’t go over a page (unless otherwise stated).

3. Send your letter as soon as you possibly can after receiving the deferment notification.

Nobody wants to hear about deferment, but with a little bit of luck and a little bit of work on your end, you can help pave the way for (possible) acceptance to your dream college. And at the end of the day, even if you are not accepted, at least you know that you did everything possible to show the admissions committee that you want to attend. (#noregrets)

Still, it never hurts to get a little help with writing the letter of continued interest. So if you are in college admissions limbo and would like some pointers on how to compose or revise your letter, then we’d be happy to give what you’ve written a pair of fresh eyes. Check out how we can assist!

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