Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I was Deferred - What do I do now?

This morning I had a senior come in holding a letter from SMU.

"It says I was deferred," the senior gentleman exclaimed, "what do I do now?"

An excellent question.

I immediately explained to this student that defer does not mean deny.

Not even close.

Some schools will shift the student's application from the early admission pool to the regular admission pool.

Certainly this will then involve competing in a larger application pool.

SMU, however, convenes a Defer Committee that usually meets in February or so to make decisions on deferred applications. This is usually a full month before Regular Committee.

But what it will allow the admission staff to do is re-evaluate the student's application with a strong emphasis on the student's performance in the senior year.

Simply put then, this student still has work to do. It's not time to succumb to senioritis. But the ball is in his corner.

I encouraged this student to reach out to our SMU rep. Schools like SMU, who admitted a strong early pool, with a 3.6 GPA/29 ACT, will experience inevitable melt. Many of these early admits will play the field at the top, applying to schools like Duke and Georgetown. If admitted to one of these top shelf schools, most likely they will matriculate. Which then triggers the melt. Which then could potentially open up a spot at SMU or many other schools.

However, as our SMU rep pointed out to me in a gentle email of correction, it's not always a 1:1 situation. As a more selective school like SMU sees prospects choose other schools, they will evaluate their numbers and percentages for existing admitted students, and potential wait-list offers down the line, etc. Seeing melt doesn't always help a deferred student; they must still demonstrate acumen so as not to be put in a situation where they wouldn't be successful at SMU.

It's important to remember that searching for the right fit goes both ways. SMU is also trying to discern if this student is a good fit. Believe it or not, the admission reps at schools like SMU want every applicant they review to experience success in college. It's a hard truth to swallow, but some rejection letters are really meant to prevent a student from experiencing crippling failure at their school.

So my final advice to this student went as followed:

Fill out the SMU Application Update, submit it expeditiously, and then follow up with a short email to our enthusiastic rep.

SMU will certainly weigh in their final evaluation whether not they believe this student has a high probability of enrolling if admitted.

So practically, I encouraged this student to write a short, pointed email to our SMU rep.

Highlight your strong academic start.

Narrate leadership moments - in athletics or the musical or within your youth group.

Keep it to a paragraph.

And end with a sentence like, "Please let me know what else I can do to help augment my chances at gaining admission into SMU this spring."

And then prepare for a loooong wait. It will be spring before you are probably notified.

Within an instant informational age, college admissions may be one of the last cultural artifacts that requires a season of waiting.

Thus waiting invites a posture of anticipation but also requires the virtue of fortitude.

You can do it! And don't forget, Mr. Hoven and I are both here to help advocate on your behalf.