Advice for Deferred Applicants

Author: Zach Klonsinski


Admissions recently released Restrictive Early Action decisions and, for most, this resulted in a final decision: admit or deny.

But for some, the news was slightly more ambiguous: a deferred decision. If you received this decision, you may be asking, "What does this mean for me?"

Quite simply, a deferred decision means that the admissions committee is not ready to make a final decision on your application yet. We traditionally receive about a third of our total applications during the Restrictive Early Action cycle. If your application was deferred, our staff wants the chance to evaluate it within the context of the larger Regular Decision pool.

While we know that a deferral is probably not the news you were hoping for, it is important to keep in mind that a deferral is not the end of the admissions process. We are deliberate about which students we choose to defer, and we only defer a student if we feel that they may be competitive later in the process. 

So, what now?

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your application is as strong and up-to-date as possible.

Here are our top five tips for deferred applicants:

1. Upload an intentional and authentic letter of interest to your applicant status portal.

If Notre Dame is truly your first choice, write a letter of desire explaining why you believe Notre Dame is the best school for you. This letter is a great opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about yourself, and to explain why you would love to attend Notre Dame.

Be sure to include what you hope to bring to the Notre Dame community. Take some time with this reflection as well, rather than submitting and updating right away after you find out your decision. We often find that students who take some time to truly reflect on why Notre Dame allow themselves space for continued discernment.

You should upload this letter directly to your applicant status portal, where the admissions committee will be able to review it (no need to email it)!

2. Send your first semester grades.

The next most important update you can send is your first semester grades from your senior year. Many high school counselors will do this automatically, but if not, be sure to ask for your grades to be sent to us.

We want to see that you are maintaining your strong academic performance throughout your senior year, especially if you are taking high-level, rigorous courses. These are also required for all applicants in the Regular Decision pool, including those who were deferred from Restrictive Early Action.

3. Include notable extracurricular accomplishments or awards.

You should update us on any significant extracurricular accomplishments or awards that you receive after the Restrictive Early Action decision release. This may include things like a new leadership role, recognition after a sports season ends, or a service impact award. We want to see any ways in which you have continued to be a pillar of the communities of which you are a part!

The best way to send updates is to upload additional materials via your applicant status portal. This will ensure that updates appear immediately in your application (they are flagged as new materials for us on our end). You do not need to send numerous updates—a compiled list is ideal!

4. Do NOT send additional letters of recommendation.

We do not encourage additional letters of recommendation beyond those submitted with your original application. We will review additional letters submitted on your behalf, but this is usually not the best way to strengthen your application.

5. Be patient.

We know that this can be a stressful process and that waiting can often be the hardest part. You have been eagerly awaiting your college decisions, and if you were deferred, you don’t have the clarity or finality you were probably hoping for right now.

Our best advice is to relax and focus on the things that bring you joy. You only get to experience this period in your life once—so enjoy your senior year as much as possible! You will hear from us in mid- to late March when we release our Regular Decision notifications.

Submitting Updates:

We will review all documents uploaded directly to your applicant status portal as part of our process. Please submit any Defer Updates for our consideration by February 1, 2024.

Please reach out if you have any additional questions. We are always happy to help!

Zach Klonsinski

Zach Klonsinski is a senior assistant director with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

He is the regional counselor for:

  • Iowa, Kansas, Missouri (greater Kansas City and Northwest), Minnesota, Wisconsin
  • Andorra, France, Monaco, Portugal, Spain
  • Beijing
  • Read Zach's profile.