Author: Mary Goodman

What does it mean to be deferred?

I’m writing today to address a topic that can often be confusing for a group of our applicants who applied to ND in the Restrictive Early Action round. Our office released decision letters in December and, for many, this yielded a definitive decision—admit or deny. But for a number of students, this meant receiving more ambiguous news—a deferred decision.

So, those of you in this situation may be wondering: What exactly does this mean for your application going forward? Over the past month, many of the admissions counselors in our office have received questions about being deferred, so we thought it would be a good idea to address your queries in a more public platform.

Quite simply, a defer decision means that the Committee on Admissions is not yet ready to make a final decision on a student’s application. Since we only receive about a quarter of our application pool during the Restrictive Early Action cycle, our staff wants the chance to evaluate deferred students’ applications within the context of the larger Regular Decision pool. While we know it isn’t the news you were hoping for, it is important to keep in mind that a deferral is certainly not the end of the admissions process. Please know that even though you applied in November, you are still on even footing with the students who chose to apply in Regular Decision. With a highly competitive applicant pool, we are very serious about which students we choose to defer because we feel that they will be competitive later in the process.

So, you may be thinking, what now? What can I be doing to ensure that my application continues to look its strongest? Here are our top five pieces of advice:

1. Our office encourages deferred students to keep us updated with any changes to their application. The most important piece is sending us your first semester senior year grades. Many high school counselors will do this automatically, but if not, this should be a top priority. The admissions committee wants to see that students are maintaining a strong academic performance throughout their senior year, particularly if the applicant is taking high-level courses. Any changes in GPA or class rank can also be helpful to our evaluation process.

2. You may also update us on any significant extra-curricular accomplishments or awards that you receive in the coming months. The easiest way to do this is to email this information to either your regional admissions counselor or to

3. You do not need to submit any additional letters of recommendation. We generally do not encourage letters of recommendation beyond the required academic teacher letter and optional counselor letter, which you submitted with your original application. Of course, if any additional letters are submitted on your behalf, they will be added to your file.

4. If Notre Dame is truly one of your first choice schools, you may also write a letter of desire explaining why you believe Notre Dame is the best school for you. You may send this letter directly to your regional admissions counselor and he or she will be sure to add it to your admissions file. This letter of desire is a useful opportunity to tell the admissions committee a little bit more about you and to explain why you would like to attend Notre Dame.

5. Last of all, please be patient!  We know that the stress and anticipation of the college admissions process may be weighing you right now, but the best advice we can give is to try to relax and let the process take its course.

As always, if you do have any questions, you are welcome to reach out to your admissions counselor. We are here to help!