As the admissions decisions are rolling in, students could be faced with several different responses. It is important that you weigh your options and make a decision you are happy with. While you may be disappointed with some of the responses you receive, remember that there is a college for you! This is why you created a 'list you love' to start with.
If you applied early to colleges, you may soon be very familiar with the word deferral. Getting deferred is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that the college would like to reconsider you along with the next pool of candidates. Chances are, the pool of candidates in regular decision is not quite as strong as those in early action or early decision and as the numbers of early applications continue to increase, more students will be deferred. Unfortunately, statistics on the percentage of students deferred and then eventually accepted are hard to come by, but in general, colleges defer around half of their early applications to the regular decision pool. For example, last year Yale deferred 55%, Middleburg deferred just 17%, and Harvard deferred over 70% of the early applicants.
What should you do? Some colleges will give you specific requests for more information such as grade reports or additional letters of recommendation. Others will straight tell you not to send anything else. Whatever they ask, make sure you follow. If they do not make any requests, you should do everything you can to improve your chances. Keep your grades up and write a letter to admissions reaffirming your interest. Basically do as you would if you were waitlisted (read below).
Keep in mind that if you are deferred, you are no longer required to attend that college if eventually accepted. You should continue to apply to other colleges of interest. If you no longer wish to be considered, inform the college of your decision and free up that space for another student. Remember, being deferred is basically a second chance for consideration, but you should still keep other options open.
Almost 40% of colleges use a wait list and they put an average of 10% of all students applying on to that list to fill spots of students who do not accept their offers of admission. Unfortunately, these lists often give students a sense of false hope as the chances of actually being taken off of the waitlist are very slim. In 2016, an overall average of 23% of students on waitlists eventually got accepted and an even lower 14% were accepted from the lists of highly selective schools. So as can be expected, the more selective the school, the lower the chance that you will be taken off of the list.
If you are one of the the small group of students waitlisted, there are several things you can and should do. First, decide if you are truly still interested in the school and even want to be on the waitlist. Consider your chances of actually being taken off of that list. You can also contact admissions and find out where you stand on the list. Are there different pools? If so, are you in the priority? Do you really want to wait it out? Colleges may not inform you of the final decision until after the May 1 National Decision Day when they have a good idea of who has accepted their offers of admission. If you do decide to wait it out, make sure you have your backup school lined up and are ready to submit the deposit before the deadline if you are not pulled from the waitlist in time. Second, do everything you can to improve your chances of being taken off. Write a letter to admissions reaffirming your interest in the school and your hopes of attending. Continue to remain in contact with your local admissions representative and keep them updated with your grades and test scores, particularly things which show progress/improvement since you applied.
Congratulations! You officially have until May 1 to make your deposit and enroll in your chosen college. It is important to pay attention to applications and deadlines to enroll in extras such as orientation programs, spring accepted student events, and different housing options. Some of those go on a first come, first serve basis, so do not wait until May 1 if you are sure of where you want to go! It should go without saying, but as always, continue to keep up your grades and send in any final reports requested.
ACCEPTED TO BRANCH/PARTNER CAMPUS, INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM or SUMMER SEMESTER
Some students may open their acceptance letters to find unexpected responses. There are several types of non-traditional acceptances various colleges currently offer. Some examples include acceptance to one of NYU's international campuses for the first year, Notre Dame's Gateway program at Holy Cross College, or a summer semester before you join the rest of the freshman class on campus. While you may be disappointed or confused by these offers, they are definitely worth consideration. They are indeed still acceptances and offer great experiences to bond with a smaller group of students before merging with the rest of your class on the main campus.
While it certainly isn’t a decision you were hoping for or in some instances expected, chances are you are going to get a few of these. Allow yourself a moment to be upset and then MOVE ON! Consider your other options and decide which remaining colleges are the best fits. The whole purpose of applying to a balanced list of colleges was to give yourself several different options for when decisions like this come in. You should have many other great options on your list and if you do not, it is not too late to apply to more. Many schools have application deadlines which span into the Spring. Also, if you are denied from an ED I or EA pool, you could consider applying ED II to another school. Various top colleges have ED II deadlines early to mid January, so there is still time to get those applications in.
Whatever those admissions letters may reveal, you ALWAYS have options. Take the time to make a decision which is in YOUR best interest. There is a school for everyone, you just have to look for it.