So, You've Been Deferred

Author: Nicole Campbell


So, you’ve worked hard your entire life. You perfected your essays. You got a fantastic letter of recommendation from that one teacher you really liked. You poured your heart out on your early action application. 

Yet, when you got your decision back, it’s not quite what you were looking for: the admissions committee is not yet ready to make a final decision on your application. This can be quite frustrating, as it is not the satisfaction of an acceptance but also not the closure of a denial. 

The nice thing about a deferral, however, is that you now have the opportunity to improve your application and show the admissions committee why you are the best fit for the school. As somebody who was deferred from Notre Dame and worked extremely hard to be later accepted during Regular Decision, I have a few tips for anybody who needs help figuring out how to navigate the deferral process.

Take a deep breath and don’t panic.

If you have not heard it yet, being deferred is not the end of the world, nor is it a knock on your intelligence in any way. There are plenty of reasons that Notre Dame may have deferred you: there may have been a surplus of qualified applicants this year or even ways in which your application could be strengthened since you initially submitted it. No matter what the reason was, breathe. Your worth is not determined by an admissions decision. 

Email your admissions counselor.

The first thing I did after I got deferred (after having a nice, healthy cry with my parents) was email my admissions counselor letting her know that I still had a strong interest in Notre Dame as my top school. Even if Notre Dame is not for sure your number one school, still show interest to your admissions counselor and let them know you want to continue in the admissions process. Unlike some schools that have an e-form on the admissions portal to directly input your intended interest in the school, Notre Dame waits for you to take the initiative yourself. After I emailed my admissions counselor, I saw a new form pop up on my admissions portal saying that I had continued interest. I cannot stress enough, reach out to your admissions counselor.

Reassess your application since submitting in the fall.

For me, I had gotten a promotion at work and finished my first semester of senior year in the time between submitting my early action application and being deferred. It is important to compile these updates as best as you can. Maybe you took another standardized test. Maybe you had a strong accomplishment in a club you are in. Whatever it is, make sure you keep a running tab of it and track the progress that you have made since your November 1 submission.

Work on a letter of intended interest.

What I mainly credit for my acceptance into Notre Dame post-deferral was my letter of intended interest. There is no guideline for a letter of intended interest. I reached out to my admissions counselor and the best piece of advice that I received was, prove why you deserve to be at Notre Dame and why Notre Dame is a good fit for you. For me, that meant proving that I was more than my family’s legacy at the school. This letter will look different for everyone, and there is also no length minimum or maximum. Whatever your letter entails, just be sure that it highlights your best qualities and how you would best contribute to the Notre Dame community.

Put it all together.

This part is relatively easy. I put my updates for my application together with my letter into a singular document and sent it to my admissions counselor. For me, this was around late January/early February, but make sure to ask your admissions counselor as to when it is best to submit.

Be patient!

I’m not going to lie and say that this is going to be an easy process. While you are waiting for your final decision, you will also hear back from other schools, time will pass, and you will still have to focus on your senior year. Make sure to take time for yourself and relax, and keep calm during the waiting process. I know it gets said a lot, but the college admissions process is a big waiting game. Stick it out, you’ve got this.